Hynek Martinec → Interview

First of all, could you tell us about about your way of working, please?

I like to capture things I observe around me and to express in my works.

Your paintings are easily mistaken for photographs at first glance. What is your relation to photography?

Photographs, or technical images as I would like to call them, have been with us since the early 19th century. I’m interested in photographic techniques and images from various times. However, for me this is all first and foremost information and to my mind technical images lack mystery. Consequently, in my paintings I try to give some sense of what I find missing in the technical images – go give them some spirit.

How do you approach a new painting? Do you paint out of memory, from scratch or do you use a model or even photograph?

I start to paint when I have formed a mental image of what I want to paint. This mental image is like a distillation of various influences.

What do you see in paintings that a photo, in your eyes, can never achieve?

It’s easiest to explain by comparing war photographs with paintings. When we see tragic photos we mostly think of what we see on the photos. It’s the topic, rather than the technique, that touches us. Paintings, on the other hand, bring us beyond the topic and techniques, into a dialogue with the history of art.

You are working in series, which are all working both conceptually as well as aesthetically on different levels. How far are new compositions planned, and altered to the real? Are you always working across the different series or are these completely separate to each other?

I only focus on one project at the time regardless of how long it takes. I see each project as one story, as one piece of art, as one sculpture and I use a specific technique for each project. Once I feel I have exhausted the possibilities I move on to a new one. Later, I sometimes return to an earlier project if I find possibilities I had not noticed or thought of earlier. In a way each project is like a room where I then leave the door open.

Some of your paintings are more „rendered“ than others. What is the secret to painting photorealistic and are there particular techniques you use for the different outcomes?

I have always admired European art and its ability to constantly come up with new ideas. As I have already mentioned different projects call for different technique.

How long does a painting take? Is there a difference, if you are capturing an actual moment, a human in form of a portrait or invented scenery on canvas?

It differs and there is no connection between the subject and the time it takes to paint it.

With the invention of photography it was possible to capture a moment in the exact moment, while a painting would always distort the situation simply by taking so long. Where to you see the main difference and argumentation for photorealistic painting?

The photo captures seconds. A painting requires the physicality of a painter over a much longer time, as long as needed.

Quite often you are even described as a hyper realistic painter, where is the difference to photorealism?

For me, hyper realism tends to mean being enslaved by an image, to copy it as closely as possible. Photorealism is more of an open field.

Your newest series „Every Minute You are closer to death“ map your personal questions about life and death. Is there a specific reason you are currently working on such a „dark“ – they are also only painted in black and white – topic?

They are actually not black and white but with some brown in it. The colour is inspired by old photographs; I want to connect with photos from late 19th century but with 21st century topics. Through the paintings I’m building a bridge between these two centuries.

What’s next?

The latest project is still ongoing. The next project might possibly take up other aspects of old photos but I still don’t know how it will develop.

Hynek Martinec
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