Michal Novotný is both painter and sculptor and it is difficult to say which comes first. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, specialising in several fields, and this experience provided him a sound training for his future career (he studied with Nepraš, Načeradský and Jiří David). He himself says that sometimes he paints “sculptural pictures” representing the sculptures he would like to create one day. At the same time, however, his pictures are a kind of “surreal” vision of what cannot be captured in the form of a sculpture. In his work both media complement each other.
Novotný’s pictures often take the form of puzzles (besides which the artist himself shrouds his work in secrecy merely by virtue of presenting it under the pseudonym MICL). They often portray common objects (boards, palms, melons, lemons, carrot, “grass”, cars, nuts and bolts, buckets, cows, swans ...), and the combination thereof might remind one of Lautréamont’s encounter between the “the sewing machine and an umbrella on the operating table”. This tendency to a kind of dreamlike atmosphere contains an element of almost Magritte-like surrealism, while also reminding us of the work of Milan Kunc, characterised by a pop-art and absurd combination of ordinary objects within the context of the contemporary world. Some of Novotný’s pictures represent phantasmagorical landscapes reminiscent of the fauna and scenery from the famous Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster Avatar (though they were painted several years previously), while others are more like a lunar landscape.
However, most characteristic of Novotný’s work are his “board paintings”: pieces of wooden construction float against the background of a blue sky, leading from some unknown place somewhere unknown (all the way to heaven perhaps?). In these paintings “boards are a morphological constant, a basic authority on which not only the composition of the image can be based, but the whole of human life. Boards here are not a fata morgana, but reality itself and the basis of life, natural authority and part of the artistic personality,” as Vlasta Čiháková-Noshiro says.
In the field of sculpture Michal Novotný is one of the few artists to struggle with classical statutory and the figure. Most artists, if they want their work to be seen as innovative, would rather avoid this sphere. Novotný is a sculptor for whom traditional materials like stone and wood are still important materials. “In terms of statues I prefer that magic where the sculpture resembles a soft, living being, while being created from some truly hard material.”
Novotný’s pictures often depict a vision of sculptures and his recent smaller sculptures made of resin (which is faster to work with than stone, as he says) are again direct quotations of the heterogeneous, surreal schizophrenic beings from the pictures. Certain themes are intertwined. For instance, in the pictures one of the main motifs is a ladder going up into the sky. This is a symbol of the human desire to ascend, but also a symbol of Jacob’s ladder from the Bible, the linkage of two different worlds. And it is this theme which is embodied in three-dimensional form in what is Novotný’s most impressive sculpture to date, Those Ahead of Us, which is installed in a public place.
Art in architecture:
2007 Opona, Národní dům , New York
2005 Ti před námi, Brandýs nad Orlicí
2004 Interiér kavárny Spirála, Brno
2000 Velká Stříbrná Krysa – Obchodní dům Olympia, Brno
1999 Interiéry 4 – patrové diskotéky Karlovy Lázně, Praha
1995 Nástěnný reliéf - reprezentační prostory Atomové elektrárny Dukovany
České ateliéry, Art CZ, v.o.s., Praha 2005, s. 410-415
Ivona Raimanová, V prostoru 2010, Generace 1989-2009, Spacium, Liberec 2009, s. 104-109
C&V Magazin 1, 2010, s.112-116