Prague – a vibrant city with art around every corner. The National Art Gallery, The DOX and more let us have a glimpse into an artist’s work and marvel at one’s creativity. But what if we told you, there is more than just the big, well known galleries? What if we told you, there are so many more places where you can find art in this wonderful city? And what if you could marvel at local artists’ work?
In our new series ‘ARTSPOTTING’ we explore alternative and vibrant places and talents around Prague. Today, we set out to meet an individual artist, who has not only exhibited paintings and published comics, but also produces art for the ears.
Entering Gregor’s world, full of lovely people and peace signs, music straight out of the 60’s and guitar strumming coming from the other room, one easily gets an idea of Gregor Dalecký’s life and creative work. Freedom, creativity and love are his pillars – paired with the ideology that not every piece of art is paid in money – but more so exchanged for something more valuable than that: appreciation, understanding, giving away a piece or an idea of oneself to someone.
Born in Poprad, Slovakia, into a fairly artsy family, Gregor found the path of art extraordinarily quickly. His dad, himself a musician, and his mother, who always had a fine taste for art and music, paved the way into the world of creativity and self-expression.
His father himself had lived in Prague in his young years and worked as a driver. And so, little Gregor went along with his old man and got a whiff of Prague’s air: Concerts, art and the pulse of the same found their way into Gregor’s life very early. Meanwhile, his mother, herself a collector of vinyl plates, managed to pass on the passion for Jazz and Blues music to her son. From an early age on, Gregor was surrounded by good music and a stimulating environment.
When he was a young boy, the world of animated comics escaped Gregor due to health circumstances and so, his mother bought her boy comics of Batman, which he absolutely loved. From then on, Gregor started not only reading the comics which – though he couldn’t understand English, nor read at this age – he fell in love with. In elementary school he started to draw comical creatures: “Granted, those were kid’s comics”, he adds smilingly. One might think every kid goes through a phase like that; however, with Gregor, it was different: He drew on, captured ideas floating through his mind on paper and got better and better. By the time he had reached high school, he was almost a professional!
And then there were bananas. And carrots.
These two vitamin loaded things quickly started to become his trademark. Up until now, he fails to explain as to why carrots and bananas had raised his interest so much – but looking at his underarm, where the two throne, they stuck with him all throughout the years.
When the time for choosing an university came around, Gregor decided that he should pursue a course which would enable him to strengthen his skills and studied propagational arts. But designing posters and covers became to be very dull and boring to Gregor. He wanted freedom, space for his creativity. Often he would find himself feeling caged and his teachers trying to straightening his art out too much. The rebel in him was awoken and yet he patiently waited to see if things would improve.
It was at university when Gregor painted his first portrait with acrylic paint. “At the time, I quit smoking and drinking. I wanted to rearrange priorities in my life and needed an output”, he tells us sitting on his cozy couch, surrounded by some of his latest work.
‘I hope you will not smoke’ says the lady having a cigarette tucked behind her ear. The message the lady holds was not only the outlet for his new life without alcohol and cigarettes; it was also a way of rebelling against the teachers at his university.
“It seemed to me as if they were telling people to drink water but they themselves drank wine. It just was not fair”, Gregor says, remembering. With his painting he was protesting against the fact that he felt he was not allowed to have an opinion and it was his way of breaking out of the cage he felt his school had put him into.
Of course, his teacher did not approve of the painting. She asked him to bring in different work the next day. The little rebel he was, the next day he came in with a sketch book full of what had accompanied him through his life: Bananas and carrots – and only that. To his surprise, she had a close look at each carrot and each banana and approved. With that she managed to win over Gregor’s trust – and she started giving him the freedom of his own creativity, knowing he was always onto something. Vice versa, he started listening to her advice, which was no longer the ‘caging’ statements they had been before but constructive feedback that helped him develop further skills.
Coming back for good
Once school was out, Gregor decided to go back to where he saw art bloom in his earlier years: Prague. “Prague was as fantastic as I remembered it. Art around every corner, lovely people to meet and a lot of space and freedom to make something beautiful”, he says.
Ever since, Gregor has settled in Prague and its art scene. Besides comics – which he already published – he concentrates on illustrations but also acrylic paintings. One of the quirky, cool things he works with are old vinyl plates: Instead of letting people throw away old classics, he gives them a new face and with that a reason to stick around in one’s house rather than find an abrupt ending.
When asked what the craziest piece he ever produced is, he cannot help but giggle joyfully. One of the more eccentric and special projects that came from Gregor’s hands was a piece that he made out of his hair. One fine day he decided that paint would not do the trick fully and decided to cut his – at the time -shoulder long hair to use it as material for a new piece.
“As long as an artist can document a moment, a feeling or an emotion in time, an artist gets to be proud and only him really knows what he meant. Think of the paintings of Picasso that we look at nowadays – none of us really knows what was going on in Picasso’s art”, Gregor says thoughtfully.
Besides the crazy and innovative ‘painting’ from hair, Gregor combined his passion for art and music in some of his work: Gregor sat down and studied his favourite artists’ lives and painted the picture they and their story had fed him with. Pictures of Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Bob Dylan and many more, painted with extreme accuracy and beauty, look at us from the wall and fascinate us. Truly extraordinary work, as we think.
And then there was music
Only a few months ago Gregor started to make music himself. The many times when he was painting, it was always like a performance to him. Earphones in – world off! Music made him forget about all the things one needs to do, all sorrows and negative thoughts and just let him bring his soul to the canvas. At some point, he realized that he not only wanted to consume the wonderful beats in his earphones, but also maybe help others to find that kind of paradise by making use of his voice, his stage personality and like minded people! Music made him work better and more focused when working on a piece – and he wanted to give some of the good vibes back.
These days, Gregor is involved in a few music productions with friends and like minded people. Of course, he is jamming out at Zizkovsiska’s Jam Session almost every week and impresses the crowd with his positive energy and his stage presence.
Talking about the future
Though it would be a great achievement to have, art schools and universities are horrendously expensive and even in Prague it is hard to get to and through them. For an artist that has already found his way, it might also be hard to reintegrate into an environment, where he can not let his creativity just flow.
However, the future for Gregor is looking bright – always. The right people and the right space for art is all he needs. Exchanging art for art and time for experiences is an invaluable treasure! So really, the goals for the future are jamming and “if I get to dream a little bit, to record something with the right crowd and preferably sell it on a vinyl.”
Painting-wise, comics are going to be important, too, for a bit – or maybe forever? Having just started a new collaboration with an illustrator, we get to be be excited for the publication of the a new illustrated book – from two comic artists with two very different styles in one big piece!
When asked how Gregor would describe the word ‘art’ he answers: “You get an inspiration, you live a moment and you make something out of it. Be it something for someone else’s eyes, your eyes, your tummy or other people’s tummy. And if you are happy with it, then you reached the goal of art. At least if you ask me.”
Find Gregor’s art in Prague
Gregor has different locations where he presents his art – depending on what he produces. While his illustrated book thrones in Artrafika, an art space in Branik, one of his comics made in collaboration has been presented in Slovakia. If you are not planning a holiday to the Tatras anytime soon, his paintings and productions can all be found and be marveled at on his Facebook page: Gregor Dalecký Art – for your daily dose of comics, bananas and carrots!
Art for Gregor is capturing a feeling, a moment, an emotion – “footsteps”, as he calls it. “Being able to say ‘I was here’ is – in my opinion – the biggest success an artist can have. Leaving something behind, what a beautiful feeling!” And in true Gregor fashion, at the end of our interview he captured the same on a small painting customized for me. “What is your object that screams ‘you’?”, he asked and as a fellow music lover, I reached for my headphones. And so he drew. Three minutes later, the ‘most important’ was ‘not lost’.
Gregor’s Facebook page: Gregor Dalecký Digital Art