Prag Kunst

Interview with Paula Gogola

Paula Gogola, a young artist from Slovakia, is currently pursuing her master's degree at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. Working predominantly in the medium of painting, her practice revolves around transfeminine positions in her queer experience.
avu prague artist interview
untitled, detail

Could you tell us about your artistic background and how you got started as an artist?
I think the moment I realized that I wanted to take some classes and really dedicate my time to this was around 12–13ish. Back in the day, I loved the band Cradle of Filth, and they had just released a new album with a beautiful booklet illustrated by some Scandinavian artist. It was super hot, sexy, dark, and kitschy, and at that moment, I knew I wanted to do this, haha. And then I got into art school and so on.

What are the main themes or concepts that you explore in your art, and what attracts you to these subjects?
My work is pretty much constantly related to my transness; I can’t help it. It has always been some sort of sublimation of who I am that led and drove me to paint. But I try to formulate how the lived experience is tied to a broader context – social, anthropological, and so on. Trans this, trans that.

How would you describe your style and the techniques you employ in your work?
My approach to figuration is still, in a way, very classical, I’d say. Can’t really talk about a style yet. I think it’s something that happens eventually; you can’t force it. But I enjoy experimenting with materials, structures, and ‚randoms‘ that oppose my urge to have control over what I’m doing.

Can you share some of the influences, both artistic and personal, that have shaped your creative journey?
Definitely very formative for me while I was growing up were Sopor Aeternus and Emilie Autumn. Somehow, I got in touch with this gothic subculture and did my time exploring that area, even though there wasn’t much to explore in real life in my hometown back in the day. Now that I look back, it was kinda fun to puzzle up your cultural identity from scratch, mostly using the internet, especially when social media was still an emerging place. Also, a very interesting facet that shaped me was living with my twin brother, who’s also an artist. He, as opposed to me, always leaned towards the street subculture, hip hop, and everything that comes with that. We shared a room for 19 years, so it was really a challenge of personal integrity in this regard. Always standing on this imaginary crossroad of subcultures really broadened my view on the aesthetics of different ‚tribes.‘ Speaking of painters that inspire me, I’d say there would be many, but I’d name Phil Hale and Alexander Tinei. They’re so lit.

What is the art scene like in Prague, and how has living in the city influenced your work and artistic perspective?
The art scene in Prague, I must say, is cool. I feel like it’s quite diverse, and every approach has its audience. I sense strong postmodern vibes still present. Also, I love how the visual art scene overlaps with the music scene, which is a thing in Slovakia, of course, but I feel like it’s somehow more advanced here. I would say moving here did influenced my practice definitely. Coming from a small town, haha, and seeing so much freedom and diversity and not taking stuff seriously are some of those things that really put me at ease and opened my views. Also, I must say the collective of people we have at our studio is so inspiring. It really feels like the right place for discussing and cultivating a certain manner of expression coming from a particular taste we loosely share.

What role do you believe art plays in society?
Huhh a big one.

Paula Gogola
instant longing, 40×60 cm

How do you balance your personal life with your artistic pursuits, and do you have any hobbies or interests outside of your art practice?
I don’t know if I have balance. Most of my free time, I spend in the studio or hanging out with other people from the field. So, I really exist within a bubble. I enjoy it, though. But it’s also crucial to take a rest from it every now and then. I love to travel; that’s how I take a break, but I like hitchhiking and stuff. I try to keep up with this side of me and do a small journey every summer. I don’t understand that, but it seems like it’s always this 4-hour lift by a stranger in the middle of the night or a couple of days at a place of someone you’d probably never meet again that always brings some sort of ‚existential moral of the story‘ that makes you, you know, how Kylie Jenner said in that funny interview, ‚realize stuff.‘ I don’t know how to explain it without naming certain examples. Those who have done it know what I’m talking about. It definitely made my inner world richer and kept shaping my perspective and worldview. I figured out it also helps with the accumulation of inspiration. Always after a summer full of this, it feels so relaxing to come back home and start painting something.

Photo: Karina Golisová
Artist Paula Gogola. Photo: Karina Golisová

Could you discuss any upcoming exhibitions or artistic projects you are currently involved in or planning for the future?
There are some things about to happen, but you know, we have this saying in Slovakia, ‚Don’t say hop until you haven’t jumped over yet.

Paula Gogola –