PETER SERGE BUTKO – CONFESSIONS OF A CZECH PAINTER

By PETER SERGE BUTKO

By PETER SERGE BUTKO

“I used to be very introverted. Until the age of 14, my world was represented with literature, music and art. I started with photography when I was 10 and spent most of my leisure time in the dark room, with some background music on. At the age of 15, I discovered theatre and founded a theatre ensemble in my hometown in Central Slovakia. Later, I studied acting and theatre direction at an academy in Brno. For some time, I worked at the City Theatre of Prague, but after two years I felt that being tied to this stage was not enough for me. But theatre in general was a logical consequence of my long time interest in arts since it allowed for a mix of various art forms and genres in a single pot.

Since 1996, I have worked only on my own projects in various genres and art forms. In some cases I focus on the purity of a particular genre, in others I play with them. I produce theatre shows, which I also direct and create set design, focusing on the complexity of my artistic expression in terms of harmonization of interpretational and aesthetical elements. The power of simplicity in this respect is a challenge for me.

Since 15, I’ve been deeply interested in puppet theatre as well. I studied various techniques as I was fascinated by the visual power of puppets and the possibility to bring life to the unliving object in combination with music. This fascination stood behind the show named ROMANCES GITANES which I realized a couple of years later. The piece was inspired with old Gypsy legends and modern Gypsy music. I traveled with the show around many countries in Europe and Asia. Later on I also developed a workshop which was based on the experience from realization of this show. I still run these workshops and teach work with puppets, aesthetics on stage. The final point of the workshop is a short piece created by the participants.

Together with famous Czech singer and musician Ida Kelarová we have founded the civic association named MIRET (which in Czech stands for International Initiative for the Development of Ethnic-related Creativity). This organization focuses on working with young Roma talents, mostly in their teen years. Their creativity differs from other groups of society, and it’s very strong in emotion. I direct and produce their concerts and art exhibi- tions. I know their often miserable lives and I also know their stage potential, their temperament and elegance. Their life paradoxes and creative potential are fascinating and I’m passionate to work with them since it’s so inspiring.

I also do other things, though. I’m a co-director of Q – gay-community life-style program for the Czech national television. I write film scripts, theatre plays, song lyrics… But most of all I love sitting at casual cafes and bars, meet people and lead a lush life. Whatever lush may mean. And doing that I record moments and atmosphere of events and enjoy the inner experience. Then, when I feel like being alone, I enjoy solitude and paint or draw and transform the stories I had lived through and which evoke some motives in my mind. They relate to my life and everything I do. Sometimes I also take pictures of ordinary life and some photographies open further horizons for me. I print them on screen and then use them as the initial point of further artistic creation. I put them away when I don’t know which direction to take on them, then come back to the original ideas and try to push it further, until I’m totally satisfied. I prefer to exhibit in cafes rather than galleries. I think that people like the fact they don’t have to walk around the exhibition space and adjust to the stream of other viewers. Instead they can sit down, have a coffee and a cigarette, chat or just meditate – maybe even about the pictures which are open doors to their inner stories.”

Peter Serge Butko , Prague