Meet the Artist // Eva Fajčíková
Eva’s attic studio is filled with fantasy. Strong, dystopian women women charge across the canvases, dressed in chains and beauty.
Eva is sat, ready to discuss her work, and unpack the magical
Okay, so we’ll just start with okay, what brought you here?
Oh, well, actually it was all the trauma leftover from COVID. Unfortunately, in my family, there were a lot of deaths. I didn’t have time to process yet, or the energy to work. My husband was finishing his dissertation. So all my energy, most of it went out to my family. After all of this I realized I needed time for myself to just reprogram. Get myself back on track and go back to my work, because I painted through all of it. But it wasn’t enough. So I needed time to consolidate all of my work I had made during this time.
So all of these works were from the lockdown.
Yeah, actually, I didn’t do figural painting work for like a year and a half because I was doing the video games, landscapes, those ones, so I can make trees and I just needed a drive for myself and a change in cities. During my school time I didn’t do any residency. So I was like, Oh, good. I would like to try something different, something to inspire my work.
How has it been in Berlin? How has it affected your work?
It did at first. It was really in your face. Being surrounded by your work permanently. Like there is no running from it. So while it can be confronting it means you are also intensely productive. Then you go to the galleries and openings and exhibitions that you actually do like, because in Prague, I don’t like everyone. There are very few that I do like. I find the spaces and shows a lot more inspiring in Berlin, and it definitely affects my works as a result. I do like them here. So it’s inspiring for like, from the formal point of how to paint something not only the concept but the conceptual. Here it is very conceptual. I like that.
And you’re influenced by video games as well.
I do two main series, one is these video game inspired worlds. And the second is the mystical paintings of the women. And this one I started during COVID, because I started to play games again after 15 years.
Why did you stop playing games?
I don’t really know, I was 19. And I went to university. I didn’t have a computer with me indoors. And there was no time.It started to feel like an activity which was for children or for teenagers. And I’m an adult now. And so on.
I think it was nostalgia which really brought me back into it. I actually got myself an old PC that I can play old games on. Even a Nintendo and that’s, it’s great. I like it for a bit of free time, like switching off, you know. Relaxing It’s great. All the places you can go whilst gaming which are so separate from the reality which we all live in. That’s how I started again.
The video games are just a very tiny part of it.
What are these works about, these ones which you have been focusing on whilst you are here?
So these are the ones that are not related at all to the video games actually.
There is alot of symbolism in these works.
A Lot of the time people are confused by some of my work. I see it as a safe space actually. Like for me the dangerous nature and aggressive nature creates a sense of safety. I am safe because I’m dangerous. So I am the danger. And this is a safety for me. And videogames. you know, they’re called bonus level series. Because in the bonus levels, you don’t have any enemies actually. There is nostalgia there. Sometimes there is the cuteness, you know, the skeleton there is, cute and so on. And when something is cute, it’s not so dangerous,I have these elements, the nostalgic childhood thing.
And this symbolism work is more dangerous.
Yes, yes. This is more embedded with my personal feelings.
Where does the symbolism originate from?
I read quite a lot actually. So I’m inspired by very abstract things like power, or the sublime. Some of these things are very difficult for me to paint. Mainly because when I think about power, I’m more interested in the non derived power.
For example, in our world, when you have money, you have power. When you are in a government or political party, you have power.
But you can always lose this power when you lose the money, it is derived from another source.
For me these magical things are what magic should be.
I am not saying that I believe in magic, just this hypothetical magic that is inherent therefore it cannot be lost like power as we know it can. Therefore if you have it you have a secure source of power.
So this would be safe power?
Yes, but safety in the way that the women here are safe, because they are dangerous. They won’t be killed, maimed, raped or cat called. Because they are untouchable, the men are supposed to be afraid of them.
So this is why they have these faces that are looking down on you, or they don’t have a face. So they are more apparitions or ghosts. `it’s the line between the real and unreal, the spiritual and material.
I don’t know if it’s magical adultery, or if it’s real. They have masks. And what’s under there you don’t know.
Or you’ve got a sort of hidden, secretive message?
Yes, yes. Because also the power and the mystery, you don’t know. Even with a good horror story, if you are, you don’t know what you are afraid of. They have power in their mystery
What is your artistic process?
Well, for example, I was reading about the history of poison. And the first well known poisioners were in ancient Rome. The women of the three women were called () in Latin, or the poisoners. This is a translation. And so there it started, it was connected to women. There were many pre Christians, traditions that got absorbed into the Christian religion, but still prevails in the fall core. That’s how I start every Sunday. For example, I read about this one in northern Italy, where witches are supposed to battle the dead during the spring, because they are wrenching the seeds of the plants from the dead hands. And that’s how they ensure that the cycle of life or cycle of nature will continue. So that’s an idea that I got.
Actually reading the second part of it. The first is that I want to create something that is very alive or energetic. And I would like a figure there, And nature, so and a feeling I like this feeling of danger and night. Then I read something. And then I’m starting, I have this nebulous idea of what colors I should use, and the composition, and the women actually are from the fashion magazines. Mainly from vogue, i like to collect it. So then I take photos, sketch them. Like a collage done in Photoshop and in Sketchbook also, and this is then projected onto a paper, and then I start to paint
Where do the chains come from?
Oh, the chain. That’s a new thing here now in Berlin. These are abstract for me. Today, the witches are sometimes using magic jewelry, or talismans. votive objects, even during the history when you had things like the evil eye talisman. So that was burned as jewelry.. It’s a very specific thing. So I thought these could be objects of the witches. I don’t know if the first row, or the third one is like really scorched skin. Yeah, but it’s still survived (the jewelry). It lasted through the burning or the transformation. So that’s how it goes. I then started to do the imprints. And I was thinking, Oh, maybe I should leave out the physical chains, just leave the imprint and add chains to the actual paintings, or around them like an installation. But this is a very fresh idea and installation and it will change many times over now.
You work with a lot of different mediums.
Yes, I do. It’s for me I have an idea in mind and how I get there, it does not matter to me. So I use all that is available to get to the specific finish.
Then how do you find using all these different materials
For example, these are oils on paper, you cannot do this on canvas.
From a formal viewpoint, I like the contrast of the watercolor feel with the base of oil paint. And to do it, we do our media with oil paints, you can do it on this paper. So it’s you know, there is the moment that the paint drips when you use a lot of Terps or spirits. And then you can use the base and oil pastels to add texture. I like the total flatness of the watery oil paint, and the texture or the haptic planes of the painting that has more paint on it. And you can add paint more and more until. I don’t know, five centimeters thick
because you can create your own world.
Yes, yes, it’s a parallel space for me. Or a mythical world that you use to escape from reality. at that point. It’s very personal. Because it is escaping somewhere. I feel safe. In this hostile environment.
Does it reflect any of your kind of issues? Or is it purely fantasy?
No, it’s like an issue. Yeah, it definitely does reflect like many, many things.
because obviously, you’ve got the empowered woman which was quite a big symbol
Yes, because I don’t feel empowered all the time. And you know, there is this pressure to be happy, and bring the families. A Lot of the time you’re trying to be yourself, but sometimes the social pressure sometimes can remove your power. It can be difficult to find balance. Coming back to the power. I don’t have enough power to achieve all of these things. I don’t have enough money or statues. I’m just a little me in this big world. So sometimes I feel lost and unsafe, and I use my work to help myself navigate these feelings.
your female characters give you a sense of power.
They are these powerful agents that I cannot be.
But do they help you find power?
Yes. When I paint them that’s how I find my inner power.
All the figures are from fashion magazines?
Yes, I think it’s both familiar and distant for me. It’s fantastic because I’ve seen photoshoots being done. Often they will just be at the bottom garden. Or yesterday just on the street. It is so profane, but then when you see it in the magazines suddenly the figures are elevated to something else. All the editing and the editing to fit into societal specifics. I think the idea of female beauty that’s represented in these magazines, that’s maybe unattainable to the majority of us. Even those models don’t look like themselves in the photos that are released.
So I like painting my figures with masks, or without faces.
Because they are not real?
Yes, all they have that exists are tattoos or marks, or tribal symbols, like face painting. So more warriors than real people. Warriors of female-power.
Where does this moon imagery come into it?
Oh, because the whole series is called Moon harvest. As I was saying, nature and all of the poisoners. The whole thing is the connection between women and nature. And they use all of the planet’s nature of powers, for themselves and even for others to help others.It’s very religious, connected to night. I read that in ancient Greece, witches were harvesting the plants under the full moon. That’s How it all started. The lunar cycle closely connected to the women’s menstrual cycle. So that’s another thing. There is a lot of feminine energy. Men always describe ‘Mother Earth’. It’s never Father Father. So and then I like this vengeful nature because we think that all the world was made for humans, but it wasn’t and we are just realizing This post human idea of a nature and it’s not for us or just for us, and it can be quite as I said, hostile dangerous, like poisonous. These spiky vines. Actually all those plants are poisonous.
What kind of things do you read that give you this inspiration?
Mainly history books. I have 13 paths to herbal occultism so that gives you an idea then. It’s a combination of academic research and academic books, magazines. I even make stories in my head out of it. And then I was reading a historical book about joys. I want it to be based on a real fact, which is where the poisonous plants come in , but then I create this unreal fantasy around it.
Yes, there’s real very linear but then you create the unreal around it?
Yes, I actually did perfume for one of the paintings. It. Smells bad because it’s supposed to smell like this tempest, death kind of vibe. I did a perfume course, first harvesting, then cooking up some ointments and potions, and it’s very contrasting to today’s well-being culture. Sometimes it is also a bit capitalistic. Just have a bath and everything will be good and shiny again. This toxic self Care manifesto. many times you just buy a cream (just glycerin and water) for the ‘active ingredients’ in it. So there are these huge businesses around it. Then, on the other hand, it has this dark side, because they are telling you that you are not good enough as you are, which is highlighted by the magazines. You need to provide a tonne of makeup and it’s just consumerism. Yes, but then the witches they were using it for. I don’t know, kill someone, poison someone.
So you’re kind of subverting beauty.
Even just the selfcare thing, even the perfume, it does not make you sexy because it smells like this painting. It’s not very appealing actually. Berries, for example, can be extremely poisonous and it’s very interesting. They are super sweet. So sometimes people eat them without realizing that they are extremely poisonous. They have this mask of sugar.
Many of the chemical compounds are named after these plants, like the Belladonna for example. The whole name is Atropine Belladonna. Atropine is named after it and alkaloids, even the old fairy of nightshades, like tomatoes, they’re poisonous somehow. And they have alkali, they are using Anesthesia and beforehand they were also used late in history for Anaesthesia and medicine and so on.
And where do you see your work going after the residency?
I will definitely make them bigger. I didn’t have space for this here.
This is just the beginning of the series. In October I have a solo show where these works will be bigger, and that is what will happen once I go home.
So that’s why maybe there are lots of different techniques, drawings, oil, sticks, oil veins, and so on. Then I will be more sure of what exact techniques when I scale it up
Will you keep the chains?
Yes, but maybe in different ways. I imagined an installation as well. I wanted to suspend chains from the ceilings to the floor, because these papers are magnets, and so just hang them on them. that would be something.
I also started experiments with the wax you use on your legs in my paintings. I actually have beeswax at home, ecologically sourced. I want to melt this and add a perfume to it, then dip chains into the wax. This might be how it is presented. I could not make it here. I actually want to make a spiky wire frame. It is also about silicone, and maybe that would be draped in wax also. To make it more painting/object. This residence was my research really.
If you could give one piece of advice what would it be?
Don’t finish law school, and if you do, don’t teach. It eats up time.
Have you found peace through your art?
I decided to be an artist when I was 14, because it was the only exciting thing for me. I am not a peaceful person so this is not easy for me, but I am definitely pursuing something I love and enjoy. It is not a job but a passion.