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Visiting Artist: Ladislav Hanka

Thursday, November 14, 2019
Richmond Center for Visual Arts
room 2008 at 5:30 p.m.

My name marks me.  I  was born in  in 1952 -  in an ethnic enclave of Cedar Rapids, Iowa  – the son of recent exiles from the  worker’s paradise  of Stalinist Czechoslovakia.  Nazi occupation was a terrible stress under which my parents grew into an un-natural and premature, pre-wounded adulthood. Having their Russian liberators betray them and turn into the next foreign occupiers was too much. 

My subject matter  will tell you where I find evidence of the divine.   I love to fish and gather mushrooms.  I cannot get enough of ancient trees and the way their asymmetries and gravity bring me back to a place of profound stillness.  The  very idea that trees alive today were seeded  at the birth  of the old kingdom of Egypt and are thus as old as the written word itself,  sets me free.    I kneel at their roots and feel blessed.

As an artist I think and work graphically - in line and predominantly in black and white.  Drawing is to all  other art as nudes are to clothed figures and as skeletal structure is to muscle and fur.  By observing well enough to draw something, one learns to identify weight-bearing structures, begins to understand  the lines of force,  and discern the relationships among objects.  For me, it begins with field studies; going out into the cold and heat,  dealing with biting insects - sketchbook in hand, learning to draw the twists and turns characteristic of a cedar or the unique ways in which only a bur oak branches.  Catfish tails fork in ways which those of carp do not and the operculum of a trout functions very differently in pumping water through its gills than do the spiracles of a lamprey.  As these structures and their visual clues become  second nature, I take this growing work into the studio and begin to invent plausible creatures who fit into compositions with symbolic content.