For a whole day, the ŠKODA architectural laboratory has become a playground for selected artists who came here to create their original works. There is six of them, all deeply focused, and spread out among a number of beauties with polished hoods. They’ve just received the assignments and they’ll need an absolutely calm environment from this moment on, with only a light musical backdrop.
All is part of the project to create a unique customer experience in large numbers of ŠKODA showrooms, spread all over the world. The aim is to create an artwork that will support and improve the overall showroom impression and architecture. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be distracting the customers from the displayed cars.
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One of the important attributes is the correspondence with the brand’s values of course. The final rankings will give the upper hand to those artists who will present some traces of Czech cubism or Czech artistic glassmaking in their artworks. In other words, elements that have become a prominent inspiration for ŠKODA designers lately. Everything must be “interwoven”, conceptual, and meaningful. One of that artists’ tasks was also to take into consideration the key values of the brand – humanity, simplicity, and element of surprise.
But back to our contesting artists now. Each one of them has already established their workspace. Some are camping behind their laptops and are working by means of a designing software. Others literally orbit around their large-format canvases laid on the ground. Sometimes, they even have to step on them to reach certain spots. Someone is doing fine with just a smaller sheet of paper and an ordinary work table, another has locked himself in a separate room so that he won’t disturb others with graffiti spray-paint fumes.
No matter the technique and workspace, all the artists are letting their creative intuition run wild and are revving their right hemispheres to the highest gears possible. Throughout this whole process, they are being closely watched by the eyes of cameras, video cameras, and those who are here to document the progress of the whole art contest.
Nevertheless, to learn more about the individual creators and their emerging works we had to gently crash the course of their process for a few minutes. Our task was to calculate the right moment to enter their almost sacred workspace with respect and not to “fish” them out their artistic submersion.
We caught Markéta Gebrian just in the moment she was finishing her third and, at the same time, final graphics with the working title “Fast Green”. Notional worlds, composed of crystalline elements with extremely sharp edges, are dancing on the screen. The architect’s core inspiration was without a doubt the ŠKODA’s winged arrow and green is the dominant colour. As for complementary colours, Markéta has chosen her favourite shades of purple. The overall impression is therefore very contrasting colour-wise. The resulting theme comes across as disquieting, which we learn was actually the author’s intention. Maybe it mirrors Markéta’s fear of speed…
We move onto Lu Jindrák Skřivánková who carefully stands in the middle of her huge canvas, barefoot, and tends to a drapery made of geometrical shapes. Her inspiration is visibly rooted in the showroom’s premises, which is expressed in a converging perspective. The shapes are then filled with favourite colour palette that comes intuitively. “I admire renaissance architecture. I hope to recreate the spatial dynamics and movement that is almost tangible in this showroom. I would like to create a reference to cubism in the drapery,” explains the young academic painter. Indigo blue middle section’s task is to anchor the observer in the painting and to set up a relaxation zone of some kind. After the “consumer” has had enough of looking around the dynamic, restless showroom space, he or she can get right back within the safety of the calming blue space.
The post of the digital designer Rodolfo Biglié gives out a modest impression. A few pencils and black markers, and a piece of paper. You can tell that the artist is not a fan of being interrupted and that the time needed for his work has been calculated almost into minutes. He is entirely connected to his creative intuition. That is the element leading his hand by a natural flow, creating waves and crystals, resulting in a fractal geometric progression. Rodolfo too was inspired by the showroom itself. He’s in love with detail. That is, according to him, the key to beauty. What he also likes is movement, which is self-evident from his yet to be finished piece. He reveals that he’s always immensely enjoyed driving a car. We are saying our goodbyes to the artist when his painting is outlined only in black and white. For the moment being, he’s still hesitant about using additional colours, such as red and gold.
Gabriela Sedláčková has hidden herself in the back of the showroom. She creates digitally. She hasn’t decided yet which one of the two themes, now finished, she’ll send out as her champion for the competition. Each theme is expressed differently, yet the concept is identical. Both artworks can tell the life story of one car. Before it reaches their owner, the car lives a dull, grey factory life. But as soon as it embarks on its first journey, it livens up and discovers a world full of colours and fantastic adventures. The storyline is told through symbolism and colours. The colour grey has already been explained, the other ones should evoke the “outside” life, referring to water, sky, being alive, and adventure. One of the artist’s ambitions is to influence the potential buyer’s mood in a way. She herself admits that her works can give out a certain simplistic or even childish impression but, at the same time, she’s aware of their elaborateness. Her aim is for the art to mirror the brand’s stability.
Before we can approach another contestant, we have to open the door to a neighbouring room. The hovering scent of spray paint is actually quite pleasant, at least for the moment we get to spend with the artist. The first series of paintings, namely a diptych, is almost done. It even bears a name already – “Speed of Light”. Art Director Lukáš Pohánka creates while meditating. He doesn’t plan ahead. He lets everything flow naturally and immediately transfers the ideas onto his canvas. Big city energy charge is mixing with the purely natural one and runs through the whole painting with confidence bordering on cheekiness. It’s stopped only by neon turn signals that precisely correspond with the shape of one showroom detail. Freestyle with cubist elements. Full stop.
The last post belongs to Jozef Gašpierik. Before he gets to “producing” his final artwork, he needs internal answers for all the important questions. He was straightening everything out in his head for a long time. His goal is not to waste time. When we discuss Jozef’s concept, we can’t help the feeling that he intends to cram everything in there, as if at the cost of using a slight force. He wants to tell a Czech brand’s story, weave in the ŠKODA’s ‘Simply Clever’ philosophy, and point out the ecology issue. The colour palette should be dominated by violet, which is close to red - contrasting colour to the brand’s green. Three concepts are on display in front of Jozef. Which one will be finalised and how will it fare in the competition?
The contestants’ artworks were meticulously evaluated and the jury took several weeks to come to the conclusion. The choice wasn’t entirely easy, the artists presented splendid works and squeezed the maximum effort out of themselves. The final decision was reached in early September and the one to celebrate success was Jozef Gašpierik. He named his project “Family Tree”.
What was your initial reaction when you found out you became the Art Contest winner? When I was told, I was flooded by a huge wave of joy and euphoria. Indescribable feeling, enormous moment of my life. The happy message was enhanced by the fact that I was just spending time with my family at the every moment.
Did you expect it to happen? No, I didn’t expect myself to win. I was well aware of the quality and equal abilities of all other finalists.
Are you expecting your artistic life to change in any aspects thanks to this? I am not expecting it to make a 180-angle turn. But I’m a realist and I realize that ŠKODA Art Contest is mainly a great PR stunt for me. Every project I do, I approach with responsibility and I look forward to any potential future challenges so it would be even better if such challenges came in the form of cooperation with such renowned brands as ŠKODA.
ŠKODA ART CONTEST 2017
Before our group of six artists could even meet in Prague all of them had to answer the contest call placed on social media or at relevant schools. For the potential contestants to be nominated, it wasn’t enough just to register but to also include CVs and reference works. Those had to be send by June 11th, 2017, the latest and basically meet just one parameter. Simply put, the works had to be two-dimensional.
The team that picked the contest finalists comprised of an architect, marketing experts, and artists. Besides evaluating the primary assignment criteria, the “jury” focused on ensuring that there is a wide variety of art techniques used in the Art Contest.
Among the six contestants, there should be painters, graphic artists, draughtsmen, or, for example, someone who uses the graffiti approach. Gender balance was naturally also taken into consideration. The contest had no requirements on the artists’ educational background and there were also no limits concerning nationality.
June 27th, 2017, finally saw the chosen artists get together at the Showroom premises. At 9 AM sharp they took a hold of their tools of choice and started bringing their visions to life. There was a 10-hour limit to create their works and even though some of them finished literal minutes before the time ran out, all of them managed to beat the clock.