Tom Pazderka

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Artist Statement

“I burn, I draw and paint, I construct and deconstruct.  Often I combine a particular Czech (my birth country) fatalism with an American optimism to strange effect. In my work the icon of American transcendentalism Henry David Thoreau can sit side by side with mathematician genius and terrorist Ted Kaczynski and with ideologue philosopher Martin Heidegger because they are so alike in their differences. Sometimes there is very little difference between genius and madness and they are on the surface one and the same. Is history written by great leaders or madmen?

“Perhaps the answer does not matter. History is rarely neutral or complete. Through a personal vision of history I created a canon of famous and notorious cabin dwellers, of places both real and non-specific, inhabited and abandoned, because that is how time and history sometimes appear. My work runs through different practices, painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, book making, video, photography and social practice. I prefer to work with found and recycled materials, often specific to their place of origin.  This means that I get to inhabit the space in which these materials are found and can comment on them through their use.  Pallets, found wood, coal tar and charcoal from local beach fires are some of these and they play a role just as important in the works as the subjects themselves. Here the East meets the West in self-imposed exile, and escape, solitude and nostalgia share equal weight with the heavy burden of history; the American Eden and Manifest Destiny. 

“My new series of paintings is a venture into the darker side; of landscape, of nature, of memory. Images of smoke clouds from local fires are thinly painted into the heavy blackness of ash and charcoal rubbed into a burned wooden panel. These are the objects of reverie of fire, that primordial sense of one’s connectedness to something both life-affirming and life destroying.”