artwork spotlight

From the Forest Series 1

©EP 2021

Cechia, 2004

Acrylic on canvas, 145 X 155 cm

Purcahsed form the artist in 2007


Interview with Petr Pastrňák, June 2021

EP: In one of the emails you sent us, you referred to a text in your 2014 catalogue and told us that: ‘nothing else since then is available’. It sounds like you haven’t worked, exhibited or created anything new since then. You have been living in India for a long time. What do you do there and what is your daily routine like?

PETR PASTRŇÁK: I live in southern India, near the sacred mountain of Arunachala, working in the garden of an ashram and living a simple life in a small community. I haven’t painted for a long time, but I have everything I need to work here and every now and then I try something. None of the paintings I have started here are finished so I think I will paint again one day. Martin Dostál and Lucie Šiklová, who have the keys to my studio, sometimes prepare exhibitions of my paintings.

EP: How long have you been living in India?

PETR PASTRŇÁK: I’ve been coming to India since 2004, initially only for the winter. Now I’m here permanently.

Author Petr Lysácek

EP: Do you follow events in Czechia or Europe from India? How do you perceive them from that distant perspective? Or is India a deliberate escape for you from Europe and its joys and worries?

PETR PASTRŇÁK: I have not followed events in Czechia much in the last few years. I usually only read the headlines when I am checking my e-mails. I am interested in Indian philosophy and mythology and I try to focus only on that.

EP: Paintings with the theme of forests and flowers began to appear in your work sometime after 2004. Until then, more abstract themes involving lines and geometric shapes, and later portraits, prevailed. You have said more than once that you were drawn to painting at the age of 15 by your predilection for the paintings of the 19th-century Czech landscape school. Didn’t your paintings of trees and forests come a bit ‘late’?

PETR PASTRŇÁK: It’s true that I started painting forests and landscapes quite late, but I don’t usually choose my subjects in advance. What I paint often comes to me on its own. As I work, different paths open up and I follow them. The inspiration for me is the process of working and what appears there. The theme is often determined afterwards. Once I tried to paint a forest and then another path opened up that I followed. But it can also be different and I might start with a theme and see how it develops. So it’s hard to describe the process accurately afterwards. I just do what comes to mind, what I enjoy. I try different techniques and approaches and whatever form and shape it takes should have the same spirit so that I can identify with it and say it’s finished. At the beginning of the forest series, Jiří Dokoupil advised me to exhaust the subject and paint a lot. That was excellent advice because until then I had just sketched every subject and moved on.

Author: Jaroslav Brabec

EP: When you were a student, you received two scholarships to study in Austria. Is the system of education in Austria significantly different from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague? Or is it obvious that both education systems have their ‘roots’ in the Austro-Hungarian Empire?

PETR PASTRŇÁK: I think everything is freer in art schools and the school system doesn’t play such a big role. A lot depends on the personality of the studio manager, for example. So it’s hard for me to judge. But in Austria, everything worked similarly to the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. And also everybody was very friendly just like they are in Czechia, and helped me to solve similar problems with my art. The paintings from the forest series for the European Parliament collection were recommended and selected by the Ševčíks, who helped me a lot in the 1990s. Thanks to their encouragement, I got a prestigious scholarship to the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. I would like to thank them once again.

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From the Forest Series 1

Petr PASTRŇÁK

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  • 1997

    José María Gil-Robles

    José María Gil-Robles served as President of the European Parliament from 1997 to 1999.


    Signature of Amsterdam Treaty

    Signing of the Amsterdam Treaty. The Treaties establishing the European Communities and a few related acts were signed in the presence of the President of the European Parliament, José María Gil-Robles.

  • 1998

    Belfast Agreement

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  • 1999

    1999 European elections

    Voters from 15 EU countries go to the polls to elect 626 MEPs. The centre-right EPP-ED becomes the largest political group for the first time.


    Nicole Fontaine

    Nicole Fontaine served as President of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2002.


    EURO

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    Amsterdam Treaty

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  • 2000

    Charter of Fundamental Rights

    The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU is solemnly proclaimed after having been drafted by a European convention with the active involvement of MEPs.

    Article 13.
    Freedom of the arts and sciences. The arts and scientific research shall be free of constraint. Academic freedom shall be respected.

    Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000/C 364/01)


    Acquisition programme

    3rd round of acquisitions with Austria, Finland and Sweden.

  • 2001

    National parliaments exhibiton in Brussels and Strasbourg. This exhibition was created at the initiative of President Gil Robles and was officially opened on 17 December 2001 by the then President Nicole Fontaine. It consists of works of art donated or loaned by 15 national parliaments.

  • 2002

    Pat Cox

    Pat Cox served as President of the European Parliament from 2002 to 2004.


    Euro is launched

    Euro notes and coins come into circulation – a crucial stage in the construction of an economic and monetary union in Europe.

  • 2003

    Treaty of Nice

    The Treaty of Nice reforms EU institutions to allow for the EU enlargement to Eastern Europe. It further extends the application of codecision.

  • 2004

    2004 European elections

    Elections for the European parliament take place in 25 member states. The centre-right EPP-ED win 37% of the 736 seats.


    Josep Borrell

    Josep Borrell served as President of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2007.


    Eastern enlargement

    Ten countries, mostly from Eastern Europe, join the EU in the largest enlargement so far: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

  • 2007

    Hans-Gert Pöttering

    Hans-Gert Pöttering served as President of the European Parliament from 2007 to 2009.


    Acquisition programme

    Acquisition programme of works of art from Cyprus, Czechia and Estonia following the Bureau decision from 13 December 2006


    Enlargement: Bulgaria, Romania

    Bulgaria and Romania join the EU.

  • 2008

    Acquisition programme of works of art from Hungary and Latvia following the Bureau decision from 13 December 2006.

  • 2009

    2009 European elections

    In the seventh European elections voters from 27 countries elect 736 MEPs. The centre-right EPP retains its majority, taking about 36% of the seats, followed by the Socialists and Democrats with 25% and Liberals with 11%.


    Jerzy Buzek

    Jerzy Buzek served as President of the European Parliament from 2009 to 2012.


    Acquisition programme

    Acquisition programme of works of art from Poland and Lithuania following the Bureau decision from 13 December 2006


    Lisbon Treaty

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  • 2010

    Acquisition programme of works of art from Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta following the Bureau decision from 13 December 2006

  • 2011

    Acquisition programme

    Acquisition programme of works of art from Bulgaria and Romania following the Bureau decision from 13 December 2006


    (…) artistic trades constitute one of the pillars on which our cultural heritage and our economy rest (…) their continuity must therefore be safeguarded by means of appropriate mechanisms for passing on knowledge and skills, as emphasised in Parliament’s resolution of 10 April 2008 on cultural industries in Europe (…)

    European Parliament resolution of 12 May 2011 on unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries (2010/2156(INI))

    Establishment of a temporary rotating exhibition to mark rotating EU presidencies, starting from January 2011 (…)

    The exhibition would be organised by a rotating system following the changing of the EU presidencies. Every six months, the Artistic Committee would decide on a selection of 8 to 10 works of art from the Member State concerned(…) GEDA D (2010) 41679

  • 2012

    Martin Schulz

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    Art@Europarl

    The Art@Europarl exhibition presents a small selection of 27 works, mostly paintings, by artists from 27 EU countries at the Parlamentarium, the Parliament’s visitors center. It’s the first time that the general public has direct access to part of the collection.


    The European Union gets Nobel Peace Prize

    The EU is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo for the contribution of Europeans to peace and reconciliation.

  • 2013

    Acquisition programme

    Acquisition programme of works of art from Croatia following the Bureau decision from 13 December 2006.


    Enlargement Croatia

    Croatia becomes the 28th member of the EU and newly-elected Croatian MEPs take their seats in the European Parliament.

  • 2014

    2014 European elections

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  • 2016

    Brexit referendum

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  • 2017

    Antonio Tajani

    Antonio Tajani served as President of the European Parliament from 2017 to 2019.