Online Interview with Gil Pinkas from the HDL Magazine / Israel, November 2009

Gil: In what age you decided to be an artist and how it all started?

Peter: I was drawing since I was little. My parents were graphic designers at that time, so they could support me in my passion very well. Consequently I became quite good in drawing very early. I was never interested in everyday stuff, but rather on space ships, alien creatures, dinosaurs, sea monsters and old sailing ships. When I was seven, my father taught me how to draw in perspective and my drawings got space and depth. After the primary school it was obvious that I'd have to do something with drawing. This time I lived with my parents in Linz in Austria - we have emigrated from Czechoslovakia in 1980 - and the only relevant school in range was a technical college for graphic-design. I was very good prepared for the entrance examination and got the best possible results. The school, however, was a disaster. The main goal of the school seemed not to be supporting talents as effectively as possible, but the exact opposite. I was very frustrated drawing wooden cones and bowls or sticking colourful paper chips on a cardboard in order to study what a "composition" should be. I got sick and tired of all this and my interest for drawing and painting was completely gone. At this time, however, I found a new passion: the computer. I had a hard job to convince my parents to buy me one (an Atari 800XL), but they were not delighted seeing me all my free time pressing buttons on a computer keyboard and staring on weird stuff popping up on a screen. In my obsession I learned almost everything about this machine, up to programming a sophisticated computer game in machine language. In the third year of my education as graphic designer I came in touch with the air-brush. This technique actually revived my passion for graphic art. I learned to use this tool very quickly and from this point I knew I was going to become an illustrator or even a free artist - yet definitely not a graphic designer! For my first money I've earned in a vacation job I bought air-brush equipment and started to prepare myself for the entrance examination at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. I easily passed the test and became a student in the Master Class of Arik Brauer. After years in a crappy school in the crappy city of Linz, I finally felt to be at the right place. So this was where it started.

Gil: What inspires you creatively, where do you get your ideas?

Peter: Actually I have quite contrary sources of inspiration. Ever since I can think, I was fascinated with Science Fiction. I was always rather focused to the future than to the present or even to the past, and the visions of giant space ships and planet-size alien artefacts still mesmerize me. On the other hand I love the nature. I feel a kind of bliss in rocky landscapes above the tree-line. Especially I love high plateaus because this kind of landscape has its own horizon, far above the level of the 'civilized' world. I love stones and the erosional fingerprints upon them. Whenever I walk through the mountains, I try to imagine how the valleys and peaks were formed by erosional forces in fast motion. This tension between artificial creations and natural forces is somehow reflecting in my art work.

Gil: When I see your work I feel that I am in another world, dimension. Is that your main message?

Peter: The canvas (or board) is for me a vehicle, a kind of a space craft, to journey to unknown places in unknown realities. If the origin of my journey is in the world of the explainable and the describable, then I attempt to leave its orbit. However, the gravity of words pulls me back, that's why I am not taking any questions along on my trip, and consequently I do not expect any answers either. I just want to marvel about the things I see out there. I want to enter and experience new realities, new spaces, forms and dimensions. It's not about words, thoughts and messages, but rather about silent visions.

Gil: Do you use a computer as a part of your creative process?

Peter: Yes. In most of my paintings the computer is somehow involved. Before I even start a new painting, I always try out the composition with an image editing program. I rarely make classical studies and sketches on paper. If it's going to be an architectural or geometrical composition, I directly start to build the whole thing in a 3D-software. Especially paintings from the series "Artificial Spaces" are based on three-dimensional, computer-designed models. I work with a 3D visualization software to design the geometries, using something like a "virtual building block system" in addition to some algorithmical concepts. The challenge for me is to play with complex spaces and perspectives in order to create normally non-accessible places in a completely artificial arrangement of space and light. By translating these virtual concepts into paint, I attempt to enter into those artificial spaces, and render them tactile. I seek to give form and substance, bringing them out of their virtual state to a substantial manifestation.

Gil: Some of your work symbols are women. Is that one of your inspiration?

Peter: From time to time I enjoy it to experiment with the female human body. I'm trying to interweave it with artificial, inorganic or mineral structures, and although the figures get often very fragmented and modified, I have the need to perceive the beauty and eroticism of the female body.

Gil: How much of your time is devoted to painting?

Peter: It's very different, depending on what I'm working on. I have periods where I don't paint anything for days or weeks and periods where I paint from morning till night - this is especially when I'm under time pressure with upcoming exhibitions. But I'm definitely not a workaholic.

Gil: Have you ever been in Israel before?

Peter: Not yet. But I have friends in Israel und I definitely want to come one day.

Gil: Who are your artistic heroes?

Peter: Well, there are many: Jaroslav Gric (my father) Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Giorgio de Chirico, Samuel Bak, Zdislaw Beksinski, Rudolf Hausner, HR Giger, Ernst Fuchs, De Es, Alfred Kubin, Odd Nerdrum, Henry Moore and others.