Painters 2017

Pavel Kratochvil

When asked about his first impressions of Lamu, Prague-born Pavel laughs and says “donkeys, donkeys and more donkeys!” It seems an apt reply as he was seen, working at his canvas with a baby donkey resting on his knees. Unlike most of the figurative painters, Pavel is a relative newcomer to painting and was only introduced to painting plein air by his teacher and fellow Lamu painter, Jurgen Leippert.
Looking to alleviate the stress of his career as a cardiologist in Stuttgart, Pavel initially tried his hand at watercolour painting. Painting in aquarels did not inspire him, but the collection of oil paintings in his office gave him the stimulus to try his hand at landscapes. When his assistants gave him painting lessons as a 60th birthday present, he discovered his forte and continued to take lessons, most notably from Jurgen.

Pavel is influenced by expressive realism and has produced during his time in Lamu, a series of evocative paintings that reflect his interest and capture the still atmosphere of his subject matter.

This was Pavel’s first trip to Africa. He says his time in Lamu “transported him into a whole new world.” He was intrigued by the island’s inherent civilization, tolerant Muslim community and mix of culture. Painting in leafy Lamu Town square was a revelation with the clashes of colour, the women in their bui-buis and the constant movement. Pavel also confesses that whilst he really enjoyed his visit to Maweni he found that watching the hard labour of men quarrying the coral with such primitive instruments made him feel uncomfortable. He much prefers to convey the positive energy and beauty of a place. He discovered this in abundance in the atmosphere of Anidan Orphanage. He also felt a connection in the happy simplicity of the lifestyle in Shela.

Deeply grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Lamu Painters Festival, Pavel says the intense immersion of painting every day in a society of other artists has taught him a lot. He felt a deep connection with his choice of subject matter which is an important part of his painting process, as he says that “I need a vibration between myself and what I am painting, I can’t paint anything that doesn’t touch me.”

When asked how he would describe his experience, he candidly admits that “Lamu is an ideal place for painting – and there are people to help you carry your things!”

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