Arnošt Budík – art historian, poet, artist, translator. (Born October 31, 1936 in Brno, living in Brussels since 1969). He graduated from the University of Brno and the Belgian Louvain-la-Neuve. Co-founder of the Lacoste art group and its Styx revue. Author of collections of surrealist poems, studies and exhibition reviews. He has participated in many surrealist exhibitions in the Czech Republic and in the world.
JD | You are the author of the essay Three Crystals Star. You say in it that three crystals – poetry, love and freedom – are the basis of surrealist art.
AB | The German poet Georg Friedrich Philipp the single lord von Hardenberg, known as Novalis, said at the end of the 18th century that poetry was an absolute experience. In Surrealism, poetry reached the center of life by ceasing to be a mere art and becoming a method leading to the widest consciousness. Surrealism also, following Rimbaud's and Marx's changing lives, transforming the world, explored the problem of the relationship between poetry and revolution. For Andre Breton, the author of the Manifesto of Surrealism in 1924, love was a fateful force. For surrealists, love is associated with the highest realms of spirit. Breton's postulate that we will reduce art to its simplest expression of love is still valid.
And freedom? This is a prerequisite for the surrealist to develop the human spirit. In this area, surrealism rejects all compromises. The desire for liberation is expressed in surrealistic work by avoiding traditional patterns, rules, procedures. That is why in painting, it is not an endeavor for aesthetic expression but a desire to make new discoveries.
JD | How was it with Surrealism in Czechoslovakia?
AB | Someone once wrote that Czech surrealism crystallized from poetism. But let's be precise, there is no Czech surrealism, there are only Czech surrealists. The Czech avant-garde cooperated widely with the French avant-garde. This resulted in the founding of a Czech surrealist group in Prague in March 1934. Vitezslav Nezval, her spokesman at the time, said that Czech poetism was surrealism in a latent state, because it "did not die," but revived on the platform of surrealism in a new, higher form.
The Prague group had ten members. During the German occupation had to withdraw into illegality and Štýrský death in 1942 ceased to exist. It did not recover after the war. Toyen and Heisler leave for Paris. Young surrealist artists founded the band Ra. She had a communist orientation and therefore cooperated with the Belgian Revolutionary Surrealists. However, February 1948 marked the end of all free art. The Ra group has been canceled. Some of its members were gathered around by Karel Teige and continued to work, but without the possibility of publication. After Teiga's death in 1951, Vratislav Effenberger became the spokesperson, later called UDS.
JD | And the Lacoste group that you co-founded in Brno in 1964?
AB | It was not until the 1960s, when Surrealism began to be rediscovered by the public, specifically in 1964, completely independent of the Effenberger Group, that the Lacoste group was formed with four members - Jiří Havlíček, Josef Kremláček, Václav Pajurek and I. The events of the group were attended by our friends, such as painters František Malý and Aleš Navrátil, Slovak artists Karol Baron and Albín Brunovský. Our first sporadic contacts with Praguers resulted in the signing of cooperation on the Prague platform. Already here it is possible to trace the trail of pragocentrism, which considers everything outside Prague as provincial and inferior.
Orientation in post-war Surrealism was difficult for us. There were no personal contacts across the Iron Curtain and we did not get to foreign literature. Another disadvantage was the fragmentation of the surrealist movement. Nevertheless, the Lacoste group managed to place themselves in the context of the groups at that time.
AB | Correspondence and through supporters who could travel. By the end of 1965 we had our first contact with the Paris group. Then with the Italian group Surfanta and in France with the group Rupture in Marseille. From a distance, we met people around the Brumel Blondesü revue in the Netherlands and in Brussels around the very active Fantasmagie revue. These included A. Simon, M. Leconte, E.L. Messens and I. Colquhonn. Phantasmagia organized exhibitions throughout Europe, attended by some members of the Lacoste group.
Cooperation with surrealism-inspired Yugoslav poets culminated in the Invisible Mirror exhibition held in Kruševac. Another exhibition, entitled The Logic of Clear Night, was held in 1968 in West Berlin. And at that time, the last exhibition, entitled Crisis of the Presence, was in May 1969 in Mons, Belgium, and a reprint at the Brussels Gallery La Grande jatte.
JD | Then you left Czechoslovakia.
AB | Yes, in the summer of 1969 I emigrated to Belgium. Two years later I joined the founding of Reviva Gradiva. Some Czech and Slovak authors appeared in it. Karol Baron published his Panoptical Manifesto there. Gradiva tried to build a bridge between the different streams of contemporary Surrealism. Surrealism was carried out in three questions. Forty-two supporters of Surrealism and its critics spoke in answer to five questions about the relationship between Surrealism and art and philosophy. Among them were Bounoure, E. Jaquer, Japanese Takiguchi, A. P. Mandiargues.
At that time it was an important leaflet, published in April 1972 under the title How Long We'll Wait with Head in the Sand. He protested against the Western concessions of Soviet imperialism. It was distributed throughout Western Europe by our Lacoste group under the borrowed title Gradiva.
JD | However, the knowledge of the very history and effect of the traditional postulates of Surrealism is probably not a nutrient in the contemporary life of Surrealism anywhere in the world.
AB | Definitely not. Surrealism is often given as a religious order. Some even called sparkling wine. It is generally believed that Breton decided the fate of individual surrealists. This means in terms of their influence on the surrealist movement. Certainly there is a certain truth, but it should not be forgotten that, according to Breton, surrealism was not enough just to be interested. Every new adept had to bring something that enriched Surrealism with originality and immediacy. Surrealism thus continued to encourage new impulses. As in any human community, surrealists were at every stage people who lost or lost interest. Usually it's about temperament and affection. For this reason, new surrealist groups are still emerging whose lives are ephemeral.
JD | Best time to remind you to create a Stir up group.
AB | In 1995, the North Moravian company Karel Teige´s broke up. Stir formed in the same year was formed by some of its former members and other surrealists, including members of the former Lacoste group. The group has performed more than 70 exhibitions in the Czech Republic and Brussels and participated in international surrealist exhibitions in the Portuguese Cultural Center Coimbra (2008) and Santiago de Chile (2009) and Costa – Rica. Since 2006, thanks to the patron of art, Lubomír Kerndl has had spacious seasonal exhibition interiors in the Devil's Tail Gallery in the former Mohelský Mill on the Jihlava River.
JD | The current surrealist movement in the Czech Republic is inconsistent. No member of the group Stir up was present at the large exhibition of contemporary Surrealism in Prag. How is it possible?
AB | J. L. Bédouin, a biography of Breton, wrote in the publication Ten Years of Surrealism: Surrealism ceases to be alone once, unfortunately, identifies itself with the doctrine, dogma or simply monopoly of one group of people. The composition of surrealist groups is unstable; internal contradictions are often common where strong individuals try to assert their opinions. Then the group splits and creates another. Then it depends on the authority of people like Breton. He was able to unite the whole international movement in unity. There are more groups in some countries. But they don't like each other. There have been two groups in Belgium for a long time, the Brussels group, closely focused on the British group with René Magritte, Paul Nougé and Louis Scutenaire. And the second group, called The Rupture, led by Achil Chavi, whose uncritical Stalinism later caused the group to disintegrate.
There is a similar situation in the Czech Republic – two groups that do not meet. I lived in Brussels for half a century, and although I am still interested in the problems of the Czech surrealist movement, they are still a subtitle for me. However, I remember one common publication. He has the title Flight to Night. On the last few pages, probably thanks to Pavel Řezníček, there are examples of three members of the Stir up group. Of course, the Stir up group is still active and lacks cooperation with the so-called Czech and Slovak surrealist group. I think separating the two groups is somehow beneficial. Decisions are faster and foreign relations more dynamic.
JD | You are a member of the Czech surrealist group Stir up. She has since 2006 a gallery called Devil's tail. You brought many foreign surrealists there.
AB | Yes. These were French Noel Arnaud, Jean-Martin Bontoux and Aurelien Dauguet, Belgians France Elysées, Henry Lejeune and Tomas Rayner, British Tony Pusey and John W. Welson, Argentine Eva Garcia, Portuguese Artur do Cruzeiro Seixas and Miguel de Carvalho, Dutch Rik Lina, Argentine Miguel Lohlé and others.
JD | Surrealism has the prerequisites to reflect the present. Can it co-create a European cultural face?
AB | The end of the ideologies we are witnessing, the fatigue of the still dehumanized and the dehumanization of the arts and the dissatisfaction with living conditions play a crucial role in this. Paradoxically, if Surrealism is still alive, it is also American and Western European universities. There they resist analysis and introduction to aesthetic and ideological terms. Of course, it is moving away from its original meaning, but nobody seems to mind. It is a merry-go-round where art dealers and auction houses are skillfully hiding.
JD | In addition to theoretical and critical work, you also have space for your own collages. How important is it to you?
AB | First of all, I am a poet and I break down in various activities with my poem. Collages are for me artistic verification of poetic metaphors and because their work is not subject to any previous laws, it is a playfulness, where the result is often unexpected and surprising. I consider it to be part of the surrealist games, which in today's “crowded sense” are a world of inner tension.
Agulha Revista de Cultura
UMA AGULHA NO MUNDO INTEIRO
Número 149 | Janeiro de 2020
Artista convidado: Lubomír Kerndl (República Checa, 1954)
Editor convidado: Jan Dočekal
Número especial dedicado ao Surrealismo na República Checa
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