Art as Scientific Hypothesis — Interview with Michal Nesazal

Michal Nesazal is a Brno-born, Prague-based Czech artist whose work illustrates Nesazal’s fascination and grappling with scientific concepts that are otherwise sometimes impossible to visualize. 

Visit Michal Nesazal’s MakersPlace Storefront

Brady Walker: Can you introduce yourself to our readers who might not be familiar with you and your work?

Michal Nesazal: I don’t like to talk about myself so I will refer the reader to a professional text about me:  

“It is not for nothing that Nesazal is known as a painter-solitaire, seeking his own path to depicting reality. 

“That reality is exceptionally cultivated, endowed with the purity and magical colourfulness of dream scenery, economical in its figurative expression, but with many layers of meaning. It is a vision freed of narrativity, influenced by the artist’s interest in quantum physics, astronomy, and cosmology, and always accompanied by an innovation and a new formal approach. 

“Contemplating the various possible approaches to painting landscape, he called his paintings Gates, gates to other worlds. These worlds, however, were it seems not always external; they could rather be seen as internal, moving between real space and the imagination, the present and a utopia outside time.” 

BW: In your early career, you primarily worked with minimalist, almost storybook-like landscapes. What were you going after in these series?

MS: That’s when I learned what it actually means to make a picture. The image as an analogy of an open window with a view out to the landscape. It was about showing the wonder that this planet is.

Fjords (2002) by Michal Nesazal

Tell me about your 2002 Project about unrealized projects.

Unrealized projects are projects that are recorded only in a notebook. They are verbal descriptions of unrealized objects of installations and exhibitions.

Project about unrealized projects by Michal Nesazal (2002)

BW: I need to know everything about your 2015–2016 pieces, which you describe as demonstrating “how to solve multi-dimensional spacetime.” These pieces are like Sol Lewitt imitating MC Escher. 

These drawings are inspired by the Möbius strip. The idea that if we were to imagine the smallest possible space and the smallest possible period of time as a Möbius strip. And the entire universe would be made up of these tiny structures—infinitely many infinities. It would mean a completely different view of reality.

The drawings show that in order to display physical phenomena and forces, it is first necessary to determine the expressive means by which we show something on the 2D surface of paper. The geometric form is ideal for me. And that’s what I was trying to do, to find some kind of framework — a system by which concepts and phenomena are transformed into a 2D surface.

Double Möbius strip double infinity by Michal Nesazal

BW: What portion of your work is digital art? Neonland appears to be digital, though the rest of your work seems quite analog. What are the tradeoffs of one medium to the other?

Gradually, the two areas become connected, just like the organic and inorganic structures around us. In the last 10 years, these two areas have become fully connected. And I make no distinction between them. In the future, this connection will bring about the emergence of new life forms.

New Life in Orange valley by Michal Nesazal

BW: What artists or thinkers have influenced your approach to creating work that explores concepts in physics and geometry? I’m thinking in particular of the multi-dimensional series mentioned above as well as pieces like Smallest possible space and smallest possible time interval and your Drawings of principles from space-time. 

I don’t know artists who work on these topics, but they definitely exist, but no one knows them. And the thinkers are primarily J.P. Dirac and Alan Turing.

The space between these two numbers opens up and thus the whole world is created by Michal Nesazal

BW: Tell me about your piece Quantum Garden.

In my imagination, the quantum field is made up of areas that I call Quantum Gardens. Particles and forces are precisely arranged in this area and have their exact purpose, gravity does not work here, and thus the stability of the entire garden seems to be maintained by a yet-to-be-discovered fifth fundamental force, thus replacing quantum gravity.

Entities with numbers also appear here, which are the basic bearers of information about the given area. 

This is how I see it and show it.

BW: If I wanted to familiarize myself with the concepts you explore in your work, would you be able to recommend a book or other resource?

Rose by Michal Nesazal

BW: When did your apparent fascination with science begin to intersect with your art? What form did that intersection take in its earliest phases?

I was fascinated that contemporary science, theoretical physics, and cosmology define a number of phenomena that do not have a visual form, and I thought that it might be my job to show these invisible phenomena.

Painting and drawing turned out to be ideal mediums for me to record this kind of insight. My point is to portray some of the interesting hypotheses in a language other than mathematical equations or verbal descriptions. And because I’m exploring hitherto unknown territories, I’m creating my own language that hopefully inspires the imagination about the shape of the essence of our reality.

The interweaving of science and art in my work was a long-term, evolutionary process. It was only later that I found out that this method is already known and defined as research through art (arts-based research). It is cognition based on the creative grasping of a holistic impression or insight.

And that is now my most favorite and most satisfying job. 

Entry Tesseract by Michal Nesazal

BW: How do you approach the career-making aspect of your art practice? (How do you balance your time? Do you have a manager or assistant? What activities do you prioritize?)

Everything happens in a certain rhythm, and if you tune yourself and your surroundings into a harmonically interacting frequency, you gain insight. And you know that everything is connected.

BW: What decisions have made the biggest positive impact on your art career?

The decision to stabilize the chaos that accompanies the artist. My wife Simona, who is an art historian, and I are working together on our literary work The Card Collection.

Fifth force by Michal Nesazal

BW: What have you learned about yourself and your art that’s made the most recent large impact on your practice?

The regular everyday simplest work — just pencil, paper, and a clean sensor — brought me to humility. This daily work taught me to have peace in my soul.

How Time flows in Space by Michal Nesazal

BW: Why do humans make art? What are the useful aspects of art? What might art be for?

Good question! That’s for the whole book. Art is one of the evolutionary tools by which human consciousness is improved and cultivated.  

Consciousness, its structure, also undergoes a process of improvement. Prehistoric cave paintings definitely had a great influence on the mental development of the people of the time.  

And why do they do it today? It is people’s need to somehow answer the  questions like, Who are we and Where are we.

A useful aspect of art is, that it greatly accelerates the evolution of human consciousness. Through works of art, we discover what human consciousness is. It is the only way we can know anything about consciousness. Otherwise, we cannot yet decipher and fully define it.

And what can art be for? To connect minds and thereby create a mental field.

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