“Abstract paintings, landscapes, and portraits are my greatest passion and focus.
They reflect my expressive use of color, rich brushstrokes, and spontaneity. Living abroad for several years in Singapore and Switzerland has definitely influenced my use of vibrant color, bold lines, a selection of portraits, and my esteem for nature.
When I paint, I start with an intention like a word, thought, feeling, color and composition to help me focus to begin a painting and what I would like to achieve. The painting process is always about conversation rather than something planned.
I have found that the best paintings came from a conversation in which I have listened to my heart.”
Hi Irena! Tell us a few words about yourself. What does a typical day look like? Do you just do art, or is art just part of the picture?
Irena: I am trained and worked as a civil engineer in Prague in my native Czech republic. On moving to Singapore in 2011, I took the opportunity to pursue my passion for painting and also started to attend art classes by academic Singaporean painter Wee Shoo Leong. Since August 2015, I have been living in Zurich, Switzerland, with my husband and two daughters.
For two years now, I am represented by ZContemporary art gallery located in Hamburg.
I have a home studio where I work every day from around 10.30 am till 3 pm. Sometimes on the weekends too.
My job is done when the art is created. All my work activities are focused on art and – keeping my website up-to-date, promotion thru various social media, preparation of exhibitions, and working on commissions.
Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as an artist?
Irena: The pivotal moment happened we moved to Singapore. The opportunity came at the right time and place.
Tell me more about the time you’ve spent living abroad in Singapore and Switzerland, and how it influenced your art.
Irena: Firstly, we lived and worked for almost 5 years in Singapore. Asian culture for sure impacted me. And even after moving to Switzerland, my first solo exhibition was called “Asia Reflections”. Now, living in Switzerland brings new inspirations. I like to meet new people, explore new places and both have a direct or indirect influence on what & how I paint.
You say your painting process is always about conversation rather than something planned. Could you expand on that, please?
Irena: Art is used to communicate different messages within different contexts. Painting process continues to communicate to people in a varied way. And, with commission paintings, there is usually very direct communication with my clients. The new art is shaped thru our dialogue. I always do my best to reflect my client´s taste & personality while keeping my style of expression.
What is a day of working like in your studio? Do you have any rituals that help you get motivated or in “the zone”?
Irena: My working day starts with coffee and catching up on the news plus social media, then heading to the studio and start painting at about 10:30 am with minimum breaks till about 3-4 PM. My only ritual is to pause with a great expresso. Before I start painting, I exercise regularly for a minimum of 1 hour, running or fitness. In the afternoons, I am usually picking up our daughters from school and taking them to various activities.
In reflecting back to the start of your artistic endeavor, what is the most useful advice you ever received?
Irena: The most useful advice I have ever received was to be brave, authentic, and compete only with myself.
Which artist of the past would you most like to meet, and why?
Irena: Willem de Kooning – master of color and form, and expression. I would have loved to see him work, and even paint in collaboration with him.
What was the recent piece you’ve enjoyed working on the most, and why?
Irena: I have really enjoyed working on my latest portrait Havana which I painted according to a photo that my friend Dijana took in Cuba during her traveling. It was exciting to see and compare this portrait of a Cuban lady expressed in 2 different ways – photograph and oil painting.
What’s the most challenging part of your artistic process? And how do you overcome it?
Irena: The most challenging part of my artistic process is in “ letting it happen “. I tend to want to control where my mind and thoughts go. But in letting go and following, instead of leading, I may find more than what I was looking for.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Irena: Your creativity takes courage.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
Irena: Online exhibition “Love & other stories”, opening May 1, 2021. This is a group show where my five abstract paintings will be presented. It will be running on Artsy and Widewalls. And also 2 new commissioned paintings for clients in Switzerland.