After the opening ceremony of Jiri Sliva’s exhibition in the ECC I had the chance to talk with the artist about the man, his work and his passions. The interview is published in the last edition of the Flemish cartoon magazine Scherper. This post is a small summary of the article.
Jirí Slíva was born in Pilsen in 1947 and is living in Prague since 1966. After finishing his studies in economics at the University of Prague, he worked for 8 years as a sociologist.
Slíva´s first published drawings appeared in 1972 and as this seemed successful he has devoted his full time to cartooning, graphic art, illustration and painting since 1979. He has produced 10 cartoon books, published in the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, France and the USA. His drawings have appeared in over 150 books, in numerous Czech newspapers and in international journals such as Die Zeit, Stern, New York Times, Nebelspalter, Die Welt, Los Angeles Times…
He won numerous prizes at cartoon festivals, his first one was in Knokke, Belgium of all places, in 1981. He loves Belgium he says: ‘I don’t know what it is, but er is a sort of intellectual connection between Czech and Belgian Cartoonists’. He also points out the similarities between Belgian and Czech surrealist painters.
I concider Jiri as a real story teller: with a simple drawing and one strong sentence, he’s really making poetry.
The exhibition is centered around three big themes: coffee, wine and music. Three passions of the cartoonist.
The first series ‘Café Fétiche’ is a tribute to the only remaining socialy accepted drug: coffee. Jiri loves the traditional European Coffee Houses as Café Odeon in Zurich, Mulussano in Torino, Slavia in Prague, Café Central in Vienna of Deux Magots in Paris. He is fascinated by the napkins and the form of the coffee cups.
His passion for wine is reflected through the series ‘In vino’.
Jiri played drums in a rockband and guitar in other bands. It inspired him for the cartoon series ‘Jam Session’.
A little notebook is Sliva’s most important working tool, it is filled with words and sketches, doodles. And every evening he selects the most useful ideas.
I do like the work of Jiri and if I have to summarize I would say that it is all about: art, poetry and enjoying live!
The exhibition is still running till the 24th of June in the European Cartoon Center.