Svetlana Kurmaz is an established artist with international exposure from The Czech Republic. Over her long artistic career, Kurmaz explored many techniques and styles before ultimately finding a home for her art within the figurative style. Her paintings begin with a charcoal drawing and are completed with detailed layers of oil paint. It is inspired by the aesthetic sensibilities of European cultures during the 1930s and displays people in leisurely pursuits characterized by soft, complementary colors and vintage silhouettes and compositions. We sat down with Svetlana Kurmaz to talk about her current projects, inspiration, and the start of her artistic career.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
It may sound strange, but I remember exactly when I decided to become an artist. I was 17 years old.
In general I have always been drawing since I can remember. I have memories from my earliest childhood, as I attended a children’s art school for 4 years, which my grandmother assigned to me as an additional education. Still everyone in my family, including me, was convinced that I would study medicine and become a doctor.
I studied very well and easily and had the best possible grades. In my last year of school I announced that I wanted to be an artist. Of course everyone was very surprised to say the least. I remember clearly the moment of boundless joy when I drew a wall paper dedicated to a wonderful Russian poet. Alone in the big auditorium of the school I forgot about time and space. I was completely absorbed in the process. Later, I read about something similar, and that it has different names. But at that time I didn’t know anything about it, only that this moment defined my life.
I am very grateful that my family finally allowed me to make my choice in life. That’s when I attended the Faculty of Arts. After graduating from university I taught for 7 years drawing and composition at the Department of Drawing. After meeting my future husband, we both decided to be artists only.
Can you talk about your artistic influences and other artists you are most inspired by?
I studied art history and I am very grateful to my wonderful teachers. When I delved into the subject, I liked certain periods of art history: ancient art, medieval art and the Renaissance. As I developed as an artist, my tastes and preferences also changed. But something has remained the same. The Russian art of the Middle Ages. The geniuses of the Italian Renaissance from Florence-Masaccio over Pietro della Francesca and Giotto. I am very much drawn to the French art after the bourgeois revolutions especially Matisse; the German Expressionists of the 1930s, English illustration. The closest to me is Art Deco from which many of the author’s stylistic choices raise and develop.
Do you prefer to work alone or collaborate with others?
To be honest, I prefer to work alone. Even the company of my husband, whom I trust infinitely, sometimes interferes, confuses and distracts me. In the process of work, there comes such an important moment when one moves into another dimension. Then the course of time changes. You seem to become the co-author of the artwork. Then, as an artist, I have to keep up with what guides me. It requires inner silence and deep immersion. In a sense you are no longer alone.
Can you tell us about a project you are currently working on?
We travel almost every year to France, where our German friends have a beautiful old estate as a guest house. It is always a source of impressions and emotions for the whole next year. It is a chance to enjoy the beautiful clean nature every day. Very special is the lighting with the proximity to the ocean. And of course colour, colour, colour! Unfortunately, we had to cancel the invitation this year for objective reasons
But luckily I have an imagination that always offers me scenes and situations that are connected to these impressions. Now I’m painting artworks that will be connected to the theme of “bird watching”. Sujets are coffee with friends, dogs, the beach, blossoming trees and the whole atmosphere of relaxation and joie de vivre.
What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t an artist?
To be honest I never ask myself that. I like speaking different languages, it gives me a sense of extra space and new meanings. But I am not sure if this could be my profession. I know I have the ability to support and inspire other people. So it would most likely be a job in that field.
Have you found any other artists on SINGULART whose work you admire?
In fact, I rarely see paintings by other artists. There are millions of them, beautiful, original, with different focus, aesthetic preferences, each artist’s cosmos.
I do like good abstractions like Jeremy Annear, Milton Ausherman or Janice Beaudoin works. As well as emotional and deep landscapes like the ones from Emily Ault or Laima Goda.
On top of that I admire the fantastic and beautiful worlds of Dominique Albertelli, María Álvarez, Federica Belloli, Barbara Kroll. And that is only a small part!
What advice could you give to young artists who are just starting out?
My first advice to aspiring artists is probably to love what they do. Everything else follows from that.
The greatest bonus and privilege of this profession is the joy and constant discovery of something new on a personal level and, if you are lucky, the opportunity to share both joy and discovery with others. From a practical point of view, I would advise you to take the time to study academic drawing, plastic anatomy and composition in order to feel free and confident in making further stylistic choices. Of course, still learn from the old masters. There is always something that can be useful for the artist. Looking at paintings not only in the exhibition, but also in life, in museums, etc. is a great experience. This is an invaluable experience. Pay attention to the technique and quality of the art materials.
And of course, practice, practice and practice!