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Radeq Brousil on St. Francis of Assissi, the south of France, and animal portraiture

Prague artist’s exhibit at Parisian Laundry is inspired by the personal changes he’s undergone while living in Canada

Who is Radeq Brousil? Artist, traveller, musician, nature-lover… wine guzzling carnivore? You just might want to acquaint yourself with this young international talent while his work is in Montreal, because who knows where he’ll be next. Currently showing at Parisian Laundry through mid-April, the Czech native took some time out to talk to The McGill Daily about art, inspiration, and his love of the arts.

The McGill Daily: As an artist, what are your thoughts on the state of the art world today? Do you believe that we are still capable of truly “new” production?
Radeq Brousil: I am very optimistic about this issue. Of course all things have been done before. For example, if we talk about music, all the best music was produced in the late seventies and eighties, but there are still so many musicians producing new works. And that’s how it is with art too. We artists need to talk, and we talk with our work. It’s our medium to communicate. We are not robots, but human beings, so every single thing we do is unique; it can’t be repetitive.

MD: Why have you chosen St. Francis of Assisi as an inspiration for your latest show?
RB: It all started with my friend’s father’s house. It was a very beautiful sunny day in the Canadian countryside. He gave me a peanut and said, “Go to the garden, wait for five minutes and you will see something special.” I waited one minute, nothing happened, two minutes, three minutes and suddenly a bird landed on my hand, picked up the peanut and flew away. It was something very special, something I have never experienced in my life before. So I thought about it a lot and I ended up with the work on display at Parisian Laundry.

MD: How would you compare the current exhibit “St. Francis came to Montreal” to your previous works? Or would you compare it at all?
RB: Living in Canada for the last year, my work has changed a lot. I wanted to capture what it’s like to live far from your home, without any contact with your mother tongue – to experience new beauty, sadness, and the loneliness of exploring a new “home.” I have started dreaming in English, my personality has changed. I am a new Radeq Brousil. My art is a reflection of myself, and since I’ve changed, so has the way I experience art; I work in a totally different way than when I first arrived. But when it comes to actually comparing my work over time – that’s up to historians and curators, who actually studied art history. I just make art.

MD: How did you manage to get some of these animal portraits? How staged are the works?
RB: The only single thing I can say is that there is no digital manipulation in my work and that all the animals are real. Just reality, luck, and lots of patience – that’s what this work is about.

MD: Where do you find inspiration?
RB: I usually go on holiday to my friends’ in the south of France, drink very good wine, sing with the guitar in the night next to a fireplace, get sunshine, love women in the woods, eat the best cheese in the world, crispy baguettes, bloody meat and take lots of drugs. And I sleep a lot. But now seriously, I just live my life. Things are coming, things are leaving. I take them as they come and I try to work with it. I’m actually a very simple guy. Maybe I’m just a bit more sensitive?

MD: You are also a musician and DJ. Do you think these two creative fronts intersect in your work?
RB: For me, music was always very important. When my headphones broke I felt like a junkie without a needle. I’ve been surrounded by music since the age of 12; my older brother took me to all the alternative-punk concerts, and I always wanted to have a band. That was my dream, before I wanted to do visual art. When I was 14, I started to do graffiti and listened to lots of hip hop, but on the other hand I was straight-edge and listened to a lot of punk and hardcore. I have never actually been part of a distinct community. I always felt like a single person out on his own. It was very depressing, and I felt very lonely because of it. Music was a shelter, but I was only a listener without the self-confidence to start something on my own. After years, I started a DJ crew and played music for people, but after a while I felt the same as when I was a little guy. Eventually, I acquired enough self-confidence to start my own band. We are working on our debut now, the band is called DIALOGS. But I think music and art are two totally different modes of communication.

MD: You claim residence in three cities; Montreal, Prague, and London. Does it affect your art, and how?
RB: I’ve been travelling since I was young. My father was a diplomat and he was always away from home. I never saw him. After Desert Storm in Iraq he left for a few months for a peace mission with the EU. I always hated and loved it at once when he was abroad. That’s how it is with me today. I have a need to travel, it opens my mind a lot, it opens my senses so they don’t get hypnotized by repetition.

Prague is my home. Most of my friends live there; my family and the places I grew up in are there. We call this home, don’t we? That’s why I love it and hate it. I always need to come back. I compare Prague to a woman: you can’t live with her, but it’s even more painful when you’re without her. I can’t live by my art in Prague, so I need to export my work abroad. That’s a reason why I spend so much time in London, Berlin or any other city. I was very lucky that I could start to work with Parisian Laundry, so my situation has changed. Now I can focus on the things I love and live off my work. That’s actually my biggest goal.

– compiled by Nadja Popovich