Born in: 1944, Czech Republic

Lives in: France

Media: Painting

Describe your work in 3 words: Magic Fantastic Strange

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Avida Dollar - Oil on canvas 100 x 230 cm

"I like to think that in another life, I was yet living in Prague, as somebody in charge of Rudolf II’s fabulous collection in which you could find, for example, astrological tools, potions to make gold, the philosophical stone, impenetrable manuscripts full of VITRIOL formula."

What themes does your work involve?
My art includes esoteric and erotic subjects, sensuality, poetry and sometimes an anecdote or even black humor. I also love animal art and to pay tribute to people I admire.
Describe your creative process.
Inspiration comes to me fairly easily. I feel as if ideas were stored in a large spiritual library, with an endless number of books and subjects. I just need to take a stroll in my library, stretch out my hand, and let the composition of my painting appear before me, both magically and very naturally. I always work on only one painting. I choose the format of the canvas according to the size of the main elements I will need. I like to draw things in real size.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I am influenced by the Old Masters. I am more especially inspired by themes in the domain of esotericism, poetry, literature, or biblical. I make art because I have the technique and skill for this artistic expression and I love it. I always did it. My father was an artist and I started specialized art school four years before the baccalaureate.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
As I said before, I admire the Old Masters. For me, the technique must be perfectly mastered. It must not be an obstacle to the imagination of the artist but must accompany positively his inspiration. His personal style must be easily recognized by the public.
What is the role of the artist today?
What is the most important to me is to offer paintings in front of which the spectator will take time to sit down, to enter in harmony with the painting, and then have his own walk, as an awaken dream, giving him, even for a short time, a rare and unusual feeling. My dream: that supernatural, strange, sublime and magic, would take more and more space in our lives and that beauty and spirituality would become a life's belief.
Gold Notre Dame, Phoenix Rebirth - Oil on canvas 195 x 130 cm
One Pearl per day for Judith (tribute to Caravaggio) - Oil on canvas 195 x 130 cm
The Lion in Love - Oil on canvas 195 x 130 cm - Tribute to La Fontaine Book IV fable 1
Lohengrin, My Beloved Swan - Oil on canvas - 195 x 130 cm


Lukáš KÁNDL received the 1st Place Award in the CFA Artist of the Year 2019 Contest. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist

Sarah Ann Weber

Born in: 1988, United States

Lives in: Los Angeles, United States

Media: Painting, Watercolor, Mixed media, Drawing

Describe your work in 3 words: Floral, elaborate, vivid

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The Set Up - Colored pencil on panel, framed 21 x 25 in.

"I draw landscapes that combine my observations and memories of the natural world with abstraction. Here, figures are camouflaged, androgynous, and more plant-based than human. There is beauty, but upon closer inspection, violence and decay are also present."

What themes does your work involve?
By creating environments, I am able to explore gender, decoration and beauty. Focusing on the floral and exotic, my highly detailed, dense compositions become places where growth and entropy, figure and ground, intertwine. My work may foster the hallucinatory experience of seeing a mirage, where navigating the environment is a disorienting but pleasurable experience.
Describe your creative process.
My process of drawing is intuitive. I usually begin a composition with quick, gestural scribbles or paint pours. Then I slow down, honing in on small, intertwining sections. I treat colored pencils like paint, blending the wax-based pigments to create smooth gradients. The marks stay small to draw the viewer in close, where patience is rewarded with subtlety of color and hidden forms revealed.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
My work brims with biomorphic forms and gestural marks that mimic the succulents and flowers of southern California (a place I have called home for the last six years), but the compositions are also punctuated with scribbles and brushstrokes that remind the viewer that the spaces are invented. I am inspired by nature in all its forms (wild, tamed, synthetic, fantastic) and how people exist and become part of their environment.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
I think a work of art is successful if it leaves a viewer with a lingering experience of wonder.
What is the role of the artist today?
I believe it is an artist’s responsibility to be present, reflect, and bear witness to an ever-changing world. Although my artwork has never been overtly political, I work intuitively and from an emotional place, so my practice is undoubtedly affected by how I feel about everything that is going on in the world.
The Plot - Colored pencil on paper, framed 24 x 32 in.
The Watcher - Watercolor and colored pencil on panel, framed 49 x 61 x 2 in.
The Pressure - Colored pencil on paper, framed. 24 x 32 in.
Palm Canyon - Colored pencil on paper, framed. 24 x 32 in.


Sarah Ann Weber received the 3rd Place Award in the CFA Artist of the Year 2019 Contest. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist

Iva Troj

Born in: Plovdiv, Bulgaria (Swedish National)

Lives in: Brighton, United Kingdom

Media: Painting, Drawing

Describe your work in 3 words: Ever-changing, breaking, building

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Sorry To See You Go - Oil on canvas 130 x 58 cm

"As a child, I was taught to question one-dimensional narratives, which grew from a survival technique to a technology of the artistic self. That is probably why I often focus on the normalization of dysfunctional discourses, from the victimization of the female gender to religious dogma and racism."

What themes does your work involve?
The underlying stories, especially the conflicts, are much more interesting to me than mere portraiture. I want to know what’s going on, which is why I have always been interested in research. When I went back to university for a second BA and a Master's, I chose software design, philosophy, and cognitive science rather than fine art, because science fascinates me. My themes are almost always about taking things apart and putting them back together and for that you need to look outside yourself.
Describe your creative process.
I sketch a lot before starting a piece. It's an ongoing thing. The painting technique I mostly use resembles the Flemish method of layering thin veneers of paint between layers of varnish. I am no fan of white canvases so I often prepare my canvases in advance either using pastels and ink or just diluted acrylics. After the underpainting is done I paint a lighter layer with acrylics and finish with a couple of thicker layers using oils, occasionally acrylics, and sometimes gold leaf and ink.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
Traditional elements are central to my body of work. It’s not a need to keep the style ”traditional”, but the way I speak. I grew up in a communist country. We sang songs about machines' superiority to man and praised modernity while destroying nature and killing creativity and the human spirit with it. At the same time, my summers were spent in the mountains with my grandmother who had hanging gardens, thousand stories and no TV. My head is full of dichotomies. Art is how I make sense of it all.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
There are two inseparable aspects of the art process that really need to coexist and function together - ideology and skill. Ideology without skill is silly and skill without ideology is empty. The day you find a way to get those two working as a whole is the day you become an artist. And I'm allergic to self-indulgent art. Do we really need one more artist who is only looking to himself for answers? We have a patriarchy to dismantle and a world to save. You can't do that looking at your navel.
What is the role of the artist today?
What is the role of the human today? There is a saying in my family: "If you don't have food on your table, you have one problem. If you have food on your table, you have thousand problems." Artists should be our culture's caretakers and not self-serving, standing on the top of the hill looking down monarchs. We have to stop following the cult of the individual s.c. "genius". It's the ecology of talent that raises us so we need to nurture it. The art industry has killed most of it already.
The Last Swan Oil on canvas 53 x 71 cm
As I Stand So Sad - Oil on canvas 53 x 80 cm
What Gives - Oil on canvas


Iva Troj received the 2nd Place Award in the CFA Artist of the Year 2019 Contest. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist

Marion Tubiana

Born in: 1990, France

Lives in: Garancières, France

Media: Painting, Drawing, Other: Pastel pencil

Describe your work in 3 words: Realism, sensitivity, light

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Renaissance - Soft pastel 40 x 50 cm

"To give a soul and an emotion to my paintings is before all that I look for. I paint with my heart, I put what I feel and beyond the realism that emerges from my paintings, I try to have this something that will make it more than a photo. The work of looks and dramatic light fascinates me. The eyes reflect the soul and can not lie and it is the light that allows me to give dimension and strength."

What themes does your work involve?
My work represents exclusively animals. They are part of me and if I can help raise awareness of their beauty, their fragility, their rarities, then I would have won everything!
Describe your creative process.
I work oil painting and also pastel, two completely different mediums that give me each a lot of pleasure. The painting is made on canvas mounted on a frame, the pastel is made on Pastelmat paper. The painting will bring strength, the pastel a little more velvety and sweetness ... Whether with my pencils or my brushes, I work in communion with them, hair by hair, so that the details and the realism are crying of truth and that my paintings can deliver their messages, their emotions...
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
My paintings are all created from photographs. For my creations, I first select them for what they make me feel, the expression, the look ... then I imagine how I would like to highlight them, the framing, the light that I want. This research sometimes takes me hours and is an integral part of the final work.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
I recently came across a quotation that represents well what I think of the work of artist, I allow myself to share it with you: "The work of an artist is hundreds of hours of chess and hopes, months of frustration and moments of pure joy, it is not an object but a piece of heart, a part of the soul, a moment of life." Thus, you will discover, perhaps, a small piece of me on the canvas or paper. That's what I dare to hope.
What is the role of the artist today?
As I said above, the goal of an artist is to be able to get a message across. Everyone will see the message he feels by looking at a work, it may not be the one the painter wanted to get across but as long as something happens in the heart of the viewer then that's what accounts.

This page was published by Circle Foundation for the Arts © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist