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Insights of an Eco Artist

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What it feels like for a girl exhibition by Kryštof Novotný

Insights of an Eco Artist Team

What it feels like for a girl is a comprehensive exhibition conceived into a series of twenty oil paintings depicting a woman’s life. The artist’s effort is to capture women’s desires, thoughts and feelings in individual moments, important to them, their own lives.

20 April 2023

*24. 11. 1993 Czech Republic

Elementary art School, Blansko
Art subject (graduation)

Secondary School of Art, Style and Fashion, Brno
Modeling and design of clothing (graduation)

Masaryk University, Brno
Department of Philosophy History of Art (graduation)

The exhibition What It Feels Like a Girl tries to capture  a woman's life in twenty oil paintings. The models shown mostly come  from the painter's family and friends, or these are women  who inspired the artist. They try to capture their desires, thoughts, and feelings in individual important moments of their lives. The author  has a close relationship with women and as he himself notes:  “Women played an important role in my life, when I was little, I had  more friends and I understand my whole life so far more with women.I have always taken women as muses that inspire me not only  in an artistic career but also in my personal life. I admire their way  of thinking and looking at the world. During my life so far, I have met  several exceptional women who have strongly influenced  and supported me in my decisions. For these reasons, I decided  to dedicate my new exhibition mainly to them. I would like to imprint  my admiration and my love for them. I would like to do it by means of these twenty oil paintings. Last but not least, I would like to thank them for their long-term inspiration.“ 

The paintings created during the years 2018 to 2020 have  the same dimension, mainly due to the smooth continuity. The initial  impulse for the creation of the exhibition was the movie The Cement  Garden (1993). In this film, the protagonist explains the fundamental  difference in how society perceives the position of women and men.  The exhibition is divided into day and night parts. Both timelines,  each with ten images, follow each other in action and describe the key moments in a woman's life. The first night part captures  the dark side of the human personality. It tries to show the moments  that are pleasant now, may have a significant negative impact  in the future. On the contrary, the daily part captures the joy of life,  a positive way of thinking, motherhood and emphasizes the role of women as the basis of life for the next generation. The exhibition  also contains eight paintings inspired by the concept of the American  Horror Story: Coven series, a personification of the trials of the Seven  Wonders of the Magic School in New Orleans. The characters  of the series, to control the individual wonders, had to pass several  tests, which often took the form of their greatest fears and anxieties. The concept of overcoming oneself and pushing certain boundaries became another theme of this exhibition. Each image in the portfolio  is supplemented by an analysis of the painting, the expression  of the painter and the depicted models, serves as a guide  for the viewer and presents various views on the hidden meaning  of the given works. 

What it feels like for a girl is a manifesto celebrating women.  Krystof Novotny deals with the question of the position of women today and the concept of feminism as such. He points out the growing tendency for a negative perception of feminism.  Nowadays, he tries to bring a woman's life closer to the male audience and portray how it feels to be a woman.

Night Part

II. } Sadness 

Sadness is set in the Andromeda Theater in Sicily. The architect  of the theater, Lorenzo Rein, became an important inspiration for this painting.  As a young man, he grazed sheep on the hills and dreamed of becoming  an architect. His big dream came true, and when he returned as a respected  architect, he built a theater here. The woman depicted in the painting slowly  climbs to the desired goal, but the path is not easy. During her journey,  she experiences feelings of frustration, sadness, and fear of the future. Her hand  resting on the statue points to the past and death. Yet her gaze is still fixed  on the top of the hill. The setting sun represents the end of an epoch of life  and a relentless passage of time that reminds us that we must not waste our  lives. This painting represents not only sadness itself, but also the path  to the desired goal, which may not always be easy and along which we are often  accompanied by unpleasant feelings. 

“In sadness, I see nobility, strength and beauty, which can help us  a lot in the certain life situations. For this reason, I incorporated a sunset into  the painting, which predicts a new day, a new beginning. Through this dimming,  the soul goes through a time of preparation for a new phase of life, it is a time  of renewal, healing, and rest. There are problems in every person's life that may  seem just as hopeless. Nevertheless, once the sun rises and dawn appears.  So, the painting presents the coming night combined with a feeling of sadness,  which we must proudly face, and will eventually become a part of us.“ notes the artist. 

The depicted Radka Sevcikova comments on the painting itself  and the question of feminism as follows: “Today and every day, I confirm that  being the woman I would like to be is not easy. I feel that many situations  in my work and personal life force me to suppress or at least hide my  womanhood to such an extent that the male environment does not perceive  it negatively. I think women are strong, it is just how the world is willing to look  at women's strength. At least it would be foolish of me not to stand on my side,  on the side of feminism. I think we should start defining ourselves on the basis  of who we are, not on the basis of gender. If we feel sad, I see no reason  to avoid or hide this natural emotion. I perceive a balance between day  and night, love and hate or success and failure, so the balance between  sadness and joy is important to me.“

Sadness by Kryštof Novotný. Image courtesy of Kryštof Novotný.

III. } Pyrokinesis (fire walk with me) 

The central theme of Pyrokinesis is the ability to control fire, which  is also a test of the Seven wonders in the American Horror Story: Coven.  For ancient cultures, fire became one of the most important elements of their  lives, bringing warmth and light, but at the same time it posed a danger that,  if mistreated, could have fatal consequences. Perhaps because  of its unpredictable nature, it has not ceased to fascinate people around  the world. A significant idea was raised by Sigmund Freud, who saw human  libido and notions of forbidden passion in the fire. And it is precisely this  contradictory symbolism of fire that the painter tries to transfer to the painting.  The woman in the painting is captured at the very moment of burning desire  and passion, referring to Freud's reflections. While the element of fire  is represented in the image by the Sun rising behind the forest, for which  the viewer is not able to say whether it is only illuminated by morning light  or is on fire. It captures the uncertainty that is so typical for fire.


The depicted Ksenia Kovalchuk from a young age perceived  the surroundings around her in which she grew up very intensely. Every little  thing, every detail affected her in different ways, and perhaps that is why she  decided to study architecture, where she can apply her sense of detail very well. Ksenija herself comments on the current position of women and the theme of painting as follows: “I am not a supporter of feminism,  but the role of women in such a masculine world is not entirely easy. Unfortunately, nowadays this term takes on a derogatory subtext. It is automatically associated with strong women who are not afraid of anything,  can be as cruel as men in top positions, and prefer a career to a family.  For me personally, feminism should be characterized by a woman's right to live  in any way that is comfortable and free for her, without humiliation by men, but  so do the women themselves. We must learn to find compromises even in such  a complicated world as it is today. It is not a struggle between the sexes,  but a struggle for an intelligent and mature society on Earth. The image  expresses my innermost feelings. It shows passion and total submission  to her and devotion. It depicts a woman who is not guided by reason, but by her feelings. All this speaks through the fire, which is close to me  in terms of heat, light, and its danger. The forests flooded by the sun  in the background of the painting capture my tendency to solitude  and exclusion from ordinary society. The question is, to what degree is it appropriate to go after such a fire?“

Pyrokinesis by Kryštof Novotný. Image courtesy of Kryštof Novotný.

Divination by Kryštof Novotný. Image courtesy of Kryštof Novotný.

Day Part

XIV. } MENstressuation  

Menstruation is an integral part of a woman's life. Unfortunately, this topic has been tabooed for centuries, and despite the efforts of some  women, it is still shrouded in shame and fear of condemnation. Probably  the most unknown taboo about menstruation as unclean, we know from  biblical times, when women were socially separated from their camp during  this period. However, the period was not always perceived in this way.  In contrast, in some cultures, menstruating women were considered sacred,  and their blood was perceived as a source of female power, especially  dangerous to the power of men. 

MENstressuation, the title of the painting refers to the frustration  of patriarchal society and men in general, depicts a menstruating woman lying  in the middle of Black Lake near Doo Lough between the Irish mountains  of Mweelrea and Sheeffry Hills. The red color of the wet substance refers not  only to the menstrual blood itself, but also to the pain, anger and discomfort  often associated with the period. The woman is set in the Irish minimalist  nature, which creates two important elements - a woman and an untamed  landscape that have a common basis - nature. However, it points  to the positive side of menstruation, precisely because of its cleanliness.  As mentioned at the beginning, it is an important part of a woman's life, and  in a literal sense, we can also perceive it as a purification, or a new beginning. 

Saveria Spezzano comments on the painting and patriarchal society  as follows: "For me, the name of the painting means a lot. When I was young and actually, sometimes even today, I wanted to be a man. I envied them,  I wanted to live life like them, to be out late at night and not to be afraid that  someone would hurt me. I wanted to sleep with whoever I wanted and not be  called a whore, just because I liked it. I wanted to travel without fear of being  raped, as my friend had done. I know I cannot be a man, but I promised myself  I would not be afraid anymore. I will travel alone, I will be out late into the night  and I will sleep with whomever I want, whenever I want. I will be a single  woman! Feminism, in essence, wants us to learn to love. It is not a war  between men and women! It is a war of stereotypes, they are all the same:  being skinny, tender, and perfect. That is how we should be. All my life I have  felt fat, awkward and imperfect. And the fact that I did not help the lesbian  much. I did not want to be different. I did not want to be a woman. Today  I am almost 25 years old. I am a proud lesbian and a happy woman.  But it was not always easy. On the few lines I have, I cannot explain how I did  what I went through. But I can tell you, my girlfriend, that it is necessary  to do it. Accept yourself and we have to start now. I hug you all tightly.“

MENstressuation by Kryštof Novotný. Image courtesy of Kryštof Novotný.

XV. } Concilium (socialization) 

Concilium is the ability to control the mind of another through simple  will, which allows the performer to control their actions, memories, feelings,  and thoughts. It is one of the Seven wonders of the American Horror Story:  Coven series. The stronger the human mind, the more effort is needed  to control them, yet a person skilled in this ability can break any resilient mind.  It is possible to try to resist this ability, but over time everyone will succumb. The scene of the painting shows a woman who relaxes on her balcony  in the morning meanwhile a furious fight and protest takes place behind her  on the street.The blue and gold blanket symbolizes the division  of the exhibition into night and day and represents the balance between good and evil. Flying ashes represent a moral and social decline. 

"The painting interprets a mentally balanced woman who, despite  the ubiquitous chaos, is immersed in her own faith and love in a better world.  The image further paraphrases the control of the mind, thus letting the model  stop time behind her, thus preventing further violence. Socialization here means  the personal expression of one person, whose opinion can influence  the decisions of other people around her.” adds the description of the painting  by the artist himself. Model Jessica Monteiro comments on the theme  of painting as follows: „Feminism leads important conversations, breaks down  the stereotype of strong men and weak women. Yes, I am a feminist! Do I hate  men? Absolutely no! I love men. Especially those who are feminists  and women who long for what is rightfully theirs. Just because I am asking for  the same rights that men hold does not mean that I want to be treated like  a man. I am proud, I am ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes  me a bitch, OKAY!“

Concilium by Kryštof Novotný. Image courtesy of Kryštof Novotný.

Cover Image:

Vitalum Vitalis by Kryštof Novotný. Image courtesy of Kryštof Novotný.

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