Nikola Kalinová: Island Street

The exhibition take place at Art Archive at DOX.

Layers of the Island 

Nikola Kalinová belongs to those of us, who were inspired by children's books in the past, where the doors in pictures could be opened, lid could be lifted off, curtain could be pulled, where it was allowed to look into and so be part of the story, of the background and part of the narration which the book tells. She uses this way also as an author of Artist’s Books, illustrator and graphic designer.

Her book Noem's Arch, framed by the biblical story, brings not only textual and pictorial introduction to animal species, but also brings a game that draws readers to the issue. The game, which is based on pairs, evokes memory and through pictures points clearly to the difference between male and female animal (as the author has studied scientific drawings and illustration, she is able to portray things with informative expressiveness on one hand and playfully and with ease on the other hand, both of importance for children's perception). The book also contains stickers, which children can arbitrarily stick where ever in the home landscape of the animals. The story does not take place not only on the book’s pages but also in the other variable layer. This procedure is typical for Nikola's works - she is not satisfied with only one layer and one meaning of the page. She used the same idea of “hidden beneath the surface” also in her other book The Hidden writings (Skrytá psaní), that won the contest - The Young Package (Mladý obal). The task of the contest was to express “The book as a package of the words“. Words are in this case exchanged in letters by two childhood friends, who wrap it to the white band and to get to the point of the message it's necessary to scrape the band off. Words are hidden beneath layer of a secret.

Hiding, looking for and looking behind the things and their surface, stacking of experiences and things seen – that is the nature of the artist’s book Island streets, a playfull one, which, however, is not primarily intended for children. The book is looking behind walls of streets as well as under the surface of other landscape of British Islands, where Nikola Kalinová studied one semester at the University of Leeds. During her studies there in 2012, she used to capture her surroundings by drawing the typical visual perceptions as brick facades, the green of hills or her personal interest – cat on the roof, window in her room, plate with the name of the street. She draws with experienced hand of draughtsman, who knows how to capture the real atmosphere, at times she uses fine artwork, while elsewhere she does not hesitate to use the raw expression of color markers, she works on details and in the same time she decisively fill empty areas up. Nikola as an original observer combines in her significant and energetic artistic expression realism and childlike freed visions.

Island streets is not only collection of drawings, but the synthesis of Nikola's experiences from the island. She scanned her drawings and made new arrangements in her computer, and connected them in new contexts – she made collages from her own drawing records, which contained also her memories and experiences. But in the book we find much more than that. Part of the book includes again transparent stickers (not only the author's Leeds mascots – squirrels and cats), that can be used to extend the composition and also join to it – pages can be unfold, behind a hill there is another hill, another roof behind a chimney, street behind grass. If you take off the perforated brick, you will find grass behind the brick wall. Through open windows you can even look into the author's room as well as into her imagination.