I met Jitka Petrášová in her Prague flat which is also her studio. We sat on the floor, surrounded by paintings and discussed her relationship to sport, painting, and why she didn’t attend the Prague Academy of Fine Arts (AVU) right after high school but instead chose to wait until she was almost 40.
This interview is for Sport in Art magazine, so I’ll start by asking if you enjoy exercise, and if, what kind of sport do you do?
Last year I picked up yoga. It was mainly because I was home all the time but also to help my back. My classmate and I signed up just for a lark and I think that that was the first time I willingly exercised. We started with online classes and it stuck. I realised how nice it could be. A meditation of sorts, you have an hour just for yourself.
I’m also asking because sport is a recurring topic in your paintings. We can see water polo players, racing dogs, Tai Chi masters… I read somewhere that in your case it’s not as much because of a fascination with movement but rather your dislike of it that you’ve felt since P.E. classes in primary school. That your paintings are a sort of an attempt to mend your relationship with sport. Is that true?
The topics I try to capture stem from my personal experience. The athletic paintings indeed originated from negativity. I found the concept that a macho guy at art school dictates what you should and shouldn’t do absurd, so I used to go to the pub instead and had a crazy amount of missed classes. So instead of the end of year report, I got make-up exams. This continued all the way to university where we had mandatory P.E. as well. Because of my absences I had to write an essay titled My back doesn’t hurt anymore and accompany it with drawings of specific exercises. But the idea to paint athletes began only with the start of the Corona pandemic. A lot of people were telling me that they started to collect things so I decided to make my own collection of athletes to compensate for my negative relationship with sports. It started as a joke but I have to admit that some paintings also came from admiration. Some are inspired by my classmate who is a musher (a dog sled racer). I found it fascinating. One time, she was the only woman in a race, this frail art restorator, leading a bunch of sled dogs.