Milos Koptak and Rai Escalé of Miroir Noir.
Where is your studio?
We work mainly in Milos’ studio in Bratislava, placed in the old communist “Syndicate of Artists” building. Sometimes we move our studio to other residences or places offered. As you can see from the pictures, we have worked in many fantastic and huge spaces.
Favorite material to work with?
We started our collaboration manipulating advertisement printed papers. Nowadays we concentrate strictly on painting. We use acrylics for their fresh and quick qualities.
What themes do you pursue?
We are always working around portraiture and looking for ways to make it more synthetic and expressive. We understand portraiture as an open source of inspiration. God is on every face, so the whole world is too — a theme that gives you more with less. Lately we’ve started working a lot with animal portraiture, too.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Never give up, never surrender, and keep yourself open to surprises.
A collaborative effort.
Art school or self-taught?
We both were at art schools, but after the years, an artist ends up being self taught, or at least the memories from what we learned at art-school get so blurry with the years.
Prefer to work with music or in silence?
We work in silence, but when things get serious we always listen to the Twin Peaks soundtrack. We may have listened to that record more than 1,000 times. Since day one, our collections are painted, or at least finished, under Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch’s influence.
What’s around the corner from your place?
There is a huge graveyard. Not kidding. There’s one around the corner from the studio, too.
Where can we find you outside the studio?
When we are immersed in our work, we behave very strict and disciplined. Consequently, you can find us on our way to or from the studio, or sometimes at the pubs between.
What do you collect?
Milos collects found trashy things to make silly ready-made objects. Rai collects old books. We both try to collect bank notes when available (not that often), and small pieces of art we love from our fellow artist friends.
Who are your favorite writers?
Milos’ favorite is Murakami. Rai’s favorite is Junot Díaz.
Favorite contemporary artist?
Miroir Noir is one of our favorites. For Milos, his favorite is Rai Escalé. For Rai, his favorite is Milos Koptak.
Use anything other than paint?
Lately, just a stretched canvas to paint on again and again, and to start over if needed.
Is painting dead?
Painting is very alive, and will always be. Digital might be cool on screen, but paint is real and opens up real windows to your soul.
To paint the last Brides series, where some of the paintings were so big, we started to use more oversized brushes. We sometimes used brooms, which gave us amazing drop and splash textures. The paintings took lots of energy and concentration during the physical painting moment, but they left a big trail of beautiful giant brushstrokes which had us swimming around the paintings. It made making them really fun, too!
We always stab our enemies with our palette knifes, and they are always painters who paint with palette knifes.