Northeast resident Victor Holeček has spent the majority of his life creating art.
“Since figured out I could make marks on paper with crayon, I’ve been drawing,” he said.
Born in St. Louis, he moved to Kansas City as a child and attended Scarritt Elementary in Historic Northeast.
After moving around the city, he enlisted in the United States Air Force from 2001 to 2007, during which time he said he “put his art on the backburner.”
Upon his return, Holeček said an overseas friend offered to send him a set of colored pencils on the condition that “he do something with them.”
So, he began sketching. He said the inspiration for his work is a mixture of his time in the military working with Cold War-era technology, vivid and strange dreams, gothic horror fiction, and Soviet art films.
His pieces are rooted in Central/Eastern European and American dark surrealism and Cold War aesthetics.
Originally creating his pieces in Prismacolor Premiere soft core colored pencils, he said he never understood how to use paint and had no control over it until 2014.
“The way I use colored pencil is that I am very heavy-handed with it and I blend it in a way where people frequently mistake them for paintings,” he said. “I’ve been using pencils like paints for so long that I finally understood how to use paints. I guess I’ve been using the wrong product the right way.”
The Cold War aesthetics of his work, he said, stems from his time in the military specializing in computer networking cryptographic and switching systems.
“I joined the Air Force and I worked on a lot of Cold War-era technology,” he said. “I worked on the computer systems on the AWACS and I worked on missile communication systems. It definitely informed a lot of my aesthetic sensibility. The big, bulky cabinets of machinery, pipes, and cables, definitely imparted some of my aesthetic.”
Film and literature have also shaped his work.
“I read a lot of [H.P.] Lovecraft growing up; I’ve always been drawn to that, I’ve always been predisposed to that sort of visceral element. In my adolescence, I also had a smattering of occult books. It seemed like a natural transition.”
His creative process, he said, is largely dependent on inspiration.
“I’ll get some fraction of an image at 3 o’clock in the morning after waking up on the tail end of a dream that I had. I’ll wake up and I”ll have some vague image that I’ll be able to hold onto.”
Once an idea or image has attached itself to him, his primary goal is to get it out of his head.
“I’ve always got something going on in my head and my thought processes are so erratic. I’ll occasionally get one of these things that’s just a persistent image and I can’t get rid of it and it just stays there and keeps tugging at the back of my brain and won’t go away. It starts dominating all my thought processes after a while.”
A popular piece of his, “Medico Della Peste,” depicts the dark figure of a plague doctor wearing a traditional Bishop’s Mitre with crows flying out of the top with a backdrop of crosses.
This, he said, is a companion to his “Pestartz” piece.
“It’s a series of plague doctors,” he said. “The plague doctor represents this outmoded idea of approaching things, it’s such a strong image. The birds are there because crows always have that negative connotation of a bringer of death.
His piece, “Die Hexe,” or “The Witch,” is an image of a female figure with horns coming out of her eyes.
This feature, he said, he first created in “The Priestess” and is something he has incorporated into his work the last few years.
The horns for eyes, he said, was inspired by “The Color of Pomegranates,” a 1969 Soviet art film written and directed by Sergei Parajanov about the life of Armenian poet Sayat-Nova.
“It’s more the general outfit that’s in the film,” he said. “There was a part where they show Armenian wedding costumes and there is a character with horns beating a drum.
His artist inspirations include Chet Zar, Lori Earley, Glenn Arthur, Zdzislaw Beksinski, and Darius Zawadski.
Holeček has shipped his work across the globe and said he can’t pinpoint what makes his art resonate with others.
“I think there is something cerebral to it,” he said. “I never know because it’s different for everyone and there doesn’t seem to be any common element that ties them together. I’ve got people who have bought work of mine from all walks of life. There doesn’t seem to be a common thread other than just something about a particular piece connects with them.”
Holeček said the main challenge his faces in his work is the time to create.
“My dream day is to be left alone for the entire day without interruptions to paint or sculpt, but real life doesn’t work that way. If I could have the most conducive conditions to work, that would be my zen.”
To learn more about Victor Holeček and to view his work, visit www.schamballah.com, find him on Facebook at V Holeček Art, or on Instagram at @vholecekart.