Was ‘pop art’ a term used by yourself or colleagues or was there a different terminology that referred to a new figurative art movement in the 1960s and early 1970s?

The term pop art has been generally used by artists and curators in Slovakia since the early 1960s. It was not used by the official media and, if so, it was given negative connotations.

Did you ever consider yourself (now or in the past) a pop artist?

Although my work was called differently in different periods (surrealism, art informel, pop art, new figurative art, conceptual art), I did not fully identify myself with any one of those movements.

Did your work engage with current events in the 1960s and early 1970s?

No. At that time we had a very limited access to the international art scene.

How did you choose the subject matter for your work included in The World Goes Pop?

At the time when loyalty to socialism was permanently manifested in the portraits of the icons of socialism (Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Klement Gottwald), I felt the need to counterbalance it with the manifestation of myself.

Where did you get your imagery from (what, if any, sources did you use)?

My imagery drew on the actual process of work, on my knowledge of the development of art in the world, and particularly on the existential feelings of anxiety, limitation and confinement in the environment in which I lived.

Were you aware of pop art in other parts of the world?

We had only occasional information about pop art because the authorities systematically censored our access to information. We tried to overcome this disadvantage by making unofficial contacts and exchanging information that way.

Was commercial art an influence on your work or the way in which it was made?

In those days we produced unofficial art that existed on the margins of society. A deeper understanding of this phenomenon requires a greater awareness of the situation. Everything, including the cultural institutions, was controlled by the state, both ideologically and economically. Private galleries, publishing houses and art agencies did not exist. Since there was no art market, commercial art did not influence our work.

Was there an audience for the work at the time – and if so what was their reaction to it?

In the first half of the 1960s, unofficial works were presented in the artists’ studios and private apartments. This situation lasted until 1966 when state censorship was abolished. In the second half of the 1960s, when the political situation became more liberal, we were gradually allowed to exhibit in state galleries. During the normalisation period in the 1970s, the majority of nonconformist artists were excluded from the Union of Slovak Visual Artists, which had a total monopoly on the presentation of artists in galleries, in the media and in public. The audience had a limited access to unofficial art. As a result there was little response to this art.

Looking back at these works, what you do think about them now?

This is part of my early work and, as it happens, memories of youth are always nice, even though I lived in a terrible period.

September 2015