Prague Post Article – Kim Novak shows her paintings at Strahov

Kim Novak artist - pin to designate a post that is not a painting - top leftKim Novak artist - pin to designate a post that is not a painting - top right
Kim Novak shows her paintings at Strahov

 

Legendary actress returns to the place of her family roots

Actress Kim Novak has been interested in painting all of her life, even though she is best known for her roles in films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Vertigo, the musical Pal Joey the fantasy Bell, Book and Candle, the romance Picnic and the urban drama The Man With the Golden Arm.

Kim Novak: Paintings
When: March 20–April 19
Where: Gallery, Strahov Monastery
http://www.kimnovakartist.com/
http://www.strahovskyklaster.cz/exhibitions

 

She began drawing as a child in the 1930s, going to Chicago train stations and trying to capture expressions on people during the Great Depression. Her parents were part of the Czechoslovak community in Chicago, and often spoke Czech at home. She even heard Czech in school, but doesn’t remember anything except for boys asking her to kiss them in Czech.

After leaving Hollywood when the studio system ended in the 1960s, she turned to painting and the arts as a way of working through her personal issues. “I always intended to be an artist, a painter, a visual artist,” she said in Prague.

“I wanted to help raise money for mental health because I have had mental health issues,” she said, adding that she found painting to be very therapeutic.

She cited painters Marc Chagall and J. M. W. Turner, and to a lesser extent Salvador Dalí, as stylistic influences, and you can see that in her use of color and technique.

Novak also gives her paintings extensive descriptions. “My paintings are realistic and surrealistic. I think they need an explanation,” she said.

“I paint in a way that I want you to be able to not just look at a few paintings. To me that is not the object of it. What I want is for you to stop and think about what is going on in the painting. … It is saying something. You need to think about it. Also I am a writer, on and off since [I was] a child. Often I put a verse with it,” she said.

“It is not always what you see,” she added. “It needs to be written about so you can understand what it is talking about.”

'Vertigo' © Kim Novak‘Vertigo’ © Kim Novak

But she also keeps an air of mystery in her work. She says she learned a lot from great directors and actors in Hollywood that she could later apply to painting. “Alfred Hitchcock was a great teacher. … He taught me a sense of mystery. … I learned the lesson of using mystery in a painting but also giving clues but not giving all of them,” she said. Referring to Vertigo, she said that she told Hitchcock she didn’t understand some of the scenes. “It doesn’t make sense,” she said.

Hitchcock answered, “But , ahh! That is what mystery is my dear.”

“And I thought, ‘That is interesting. You don’t always give everything away.’  And this is for painting as well. In painting you don’t want to explain everything. Always leave a little something to the imagination…You don’t want to answer every question,” Novak said.

“There are things I put in my art and I use from my art that I learned from the great directors. … So I am grateful for the people that I worked for in films,” she added.

She also used to paint as an actress. “In Hollywood that is how I got through. I used to paint the characters, and develop them as I saw them. I would read a script and I drew the characters. I go to know the characters … by painting, by drawing,” she said.

“And when I left Hollywood, I left Hollywood because I wanted to get back to my painting,” she said.

Self portrait © Kim NovakSelf portrait © Kim Novak

She also learned to do things the way she wanted without listening to the critics. She takes the approach that time will tell what is good and what is not, and one shouldn’t pay too much attention to passing fads.

“What I have to say needs to be pure. It needs to be what I have to say in the way that I have to say it.… I don’t want it to be influenced by what is popular at the time,” she said. “Pure is not to be judged. Pure is good in its own way,” she said. “Because it is pure in its time, it will be judged in its own time.” She added that her paintings are what they are and that is what is important.

“If Alfred Hitchcock did what people wanted, he would have changed Vertigo many times.… It is important that he did it the way wanted to. And therefore it is today voted best picture ever made,” she said.

Vertigo beat Citizen Kane for the top spot in Sight and Sound magazine’s survey of critics in 2012. The poll happens every 10 years.

Her painting is very personal, and it is not important for her to get it out in front of the public. It is only recently that she has put up a website. “I seldom sell the originals,” she said, although she now sells limited edition prints.

'The Tides of Humanity' © Kim Novak‘The Tides of Humanity’ © Kim Novak

Novak also wrote a memoir, but nobody will ever have a chance to read it. “I wrote a book and my drives and all the computer copies, I kept them in my house. And my house burned down. The second time. I call it fate. Perhaps what it was saying is perhaps that the important thing was that I wrote it. And it was almost complete,” she said.

“I did it. And it was a catharsis. I shed some tears. That is a catharsis too,” she said. “And It thought how important is it that it comes out? Some people like it, a lot more people don’t. And again, going to the critics. Is that important? Not to me. The important thing is that I did it.” She says it is unlikely she will try to re-create it.

The book was not done with a ghost writer, and was quite complex. It used a flashback structure. One hint she gave was that it began in current times with the birth of a horse, since her husband since 1976 has been a equine veterinary doctor. The red from the blood at the birth leads back to time in the past when Novak wore a glamorous red sequined gown at the premiere of a film.

She didn’t want a structure where people could go to certain chapter for gossip. She wanted the whole book to be read, with something from bad to beautiful on every page.

She was interested in coming to Prague since her family has roots here. She had been here to then-Czechoslovakia once previously in the 1960s with her parents to visit family. “I remember seeing a puppet show. I was so impressed. It was so special. And we stayed with family members and we stayed with a pig. They had to bring the farm animals into the house,” she said.

'After the Reign' © Kim Novak‘After the Reign’ © Kim Novak

One of her great regrets, we said, was not paying attention to her father when he tried to explain family history because now she has no way of finding any places or people in the Czech Republic connected to it. “I was too busy being interested in boys,” she said. “I never really understood the whole story. [My father] tried to explain all of these things.”

She referred to one of her paintings of a Czech woman. “I wonder about her. I wish I had listened more to my parents. I know I am related to this woman.”

While in Prague she presented Febiofest with a painting called After the Reign as a gift. It was inspired by her liking of Czech puppet shows, and shows a puppet being released from its strings. She compared that in a small way to her own journey and being released from the strictures of Hollywood into her own artistic freedom.

“While preparing my early sketches I realised I was reliving my own experiences of what I was feeling while under contract and control of the Hollywood studio system. Although it is not to be compared with what they endured, somehow I felt the need to bring my puppet out from the cloud and the rain and get free from my brain,” she said.

While at Febiofest she also received the Kristian award for her contribution to world cinematography.

This article originally appeared at the Prague Post website: http://www.praguepost.com/142-culture/46081-kim-novak-shows-her-paintings#ixzz3WBybz7sW

Kim Novak artist - pin to designate a post that is not a painting - bottom leftKim Novak artist - pin to designate a post that is not a painting - bottom right

After the Reign

I AM PRESENTING THIS PAINTING AS A GIFT AT THE FEBIOFEST FILM FESTIVAL IN THE CITY OF PRAGUE – THE HOME OF MY FOREFATHERS. I painted this to honor what was known as the VELVET REVOLUTION, a time when the people of Czechoslovakia lived under the control and rule of the Russian Communist party. I was there visiting family with my Mom and Dad in the 1960s and was impressed with their fantastic puppet shows. While preparing my early sketches I realized that I was reliving my own experiences of what I was feeling while under contract and control of the Hollywood studio system. Although it is not to be compared with what they endured, somehow I felt the need to bring my puppet out from the cloud and the rain and get free from my brain. Enjoy! Prints of this painting are available from the artist: 12x15 - $400.00, 16x20 - $600.00

Pastel over Watercolor Underpainting

Limited Editions of 250 each size
Available Print Sizes:
12″ x 15″
16″ x 20″
View Print Pricing

 

I AM PRESENTING THIS PAINTING AS A GIFT AT THE FEBIOFEST FILM FESTIVAL IN THE CITY OF PRAGUE – THE HOME OF MY FOREFATHERS

I  painted “After the Reign” to honor what was known as the VELVET REVOLUTION, a time when the people of  Czechoslovakia lived under the control and rule of the Russian Communist party.

I  was there visiting family with my Mom and Dad in the 1960s and was impressed with their fantastic puppet shows.

While preparing my early sketches I realized that I was  reliving my own experiences of what I was feeling while under contract and control of the Hollywood studio system. Although  it is not to be compared with what they endured, somehow I felt the need to bring my puppet out from the cloud and the rain and get free from my brain.  Enjoy!

After the Reign, Original Poem written to accompany the painting After the Reign, which honors the Velvet Revolution in Czechosovakia, both by Kim Novak. Time will soon tell the what, where and why      A Hand in the sky, that made the clouds cry Releasing a puppet so now she is free No treason, she dances for our liberty.  Finding her voice, she now made her choice; Living with peace, we now can rejoice    ~ Kim NovaK Original poem by Kim Novak, actress and artist.  ©2015 Kim Novak. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Tides of Humanity

"The Tides of Humanity," Original Painting of a pair of feet with water flowing over them in pastel on watercolor by Kim Novak
The Tides of Humanity

 

Pastel over Mineral Spirits Underpainting

Limited editions of 250
Print Sizes Available:
12″ x 16″
18″ x 24″
View Print Pricing

I would like to share a quote from my wise and wonderful mentor Richard McKinley, for my painting, The Tides of Humanity.

“When I look at the painting, I see you Kim – The creative soul looking into the vastness of the open sea of artistic possibilities, feet grounded in the shifting sands of mankind’s earth being washed and caressed by an ocean of something more.”Richard McKinley

~ Kim NovaK, Artist

Woman From the Train

Woman From the Train, Original Pastel over watercolor painting by Kim Novak
Woman From the Train

 

Pastel over Watercolor Underpainting

 

Limited Edition of 350
12″ x 16″
View Print Pricing

 

 

 

“Oh, to learn again what I’ve forgotten ‘bout this woman of mystery;I’d seen her then, yes, way back when, guessed she was an image from our history.He tried to show me, Dad tried to tell me ‘bout how to sort out roots of one’s family tree.But me, I didn’t want to hear then, youth too dear then, to learn ‘bout ancestry.'Mail Order Bride,' he said. Suitcase by her side, she stood waiting on the train track, too late to turn back.Where’d her man go? How’d her world go? Things I’ll ne’r know,If only I’d asked him, if only I’d listened - but time has moved on - as has the woman from the train”  ~ Kim NovaK Original poem by Kim Novak, actress and artist.  ©2014 Kim Novak. All Rights Reserved.If you find the poem’s text too small for you to read, please click on it to view a larger version.

Artist