I started to paint the first painting belonging to this series at the end of 2006. It was completed at the beginning of 2007, before my trip to Mali. Its title “Capo Vaticano” refers to the place in Campania, where I did drawings of the breakers. Even then I was tempted to use only a combination of bright red and yellow in the painting and thus borrow the chromaticity of advertising prints. Along with a dense linear structure, it brings me an exciting and provocative combination.
In the “Dogon” series I include all paintings from this period whose foundation colour is yellow and whose red lines are mostly inspired by the shapes of the sand dunes of the Dogon desert. However, these also include paintings of intersecting ornaments using green or black besides the red colour.
Another central theme from Africa became drawings capturing buildings in the villages which I describe in the text for the series of paintings “Cities”. In Bamako, Mopti and other places, I did a number of drawings of the landscape, the Niger river and the people, some of which I later exhibited at a small exhibition at the gallery U dobrého pastýře in Brno.
The expedition to Africa, organised by Professor Wolfgang Lauber from Stuttgart under the patronage of UNESCO, afforded me an amazing experience. Lauber had been going to the region of Dogon as a specialist in the architecture of primitive peoples for more than 20 years. Even so, we were in areas where before us, in his opinion, no vaccinated white man has been ever before. It was clear from the beginning that this was no tourist trip. When travelling by plane, I wrote in the journal about my concern of the sour urea odour of the villages, which proved true in Mopti, but in the remotest villages, it smelled of wool and straw as in the idyllic Bethlehem.
The visit to the villages was unforgettable. The first thing we were always captivated by were the children. Each of my fingers was held at least by one. I often had twenty or more of them around me. They wanted to touch and laugh face to face and talk and laugh again. The women felt similar, but it was obvious that they were shy. But when I smiled at them, reached out my arms to strike hands and greeted “savá”, a heartfelt pleasure of the meeting flowed between us. The village men are serious and dignified, and if they saw the children clamouring for some small present, they immediately intervened and told them off.
In the villages it is enough to just sit, watch, and take notice of the scents and time. Everything is incredibly strong. The travel in time only makes everything stronger: When you accept the invitation and you enter into the clay house of the village chief, you bend under a low smoky black ceiling. In the corner you see a girl with happy eyes grinding between two polished stones millet for flour. In the yard you’ll meet in the shade a giant turtle. In the hay like in paradise lies a fragrant kid, and in the corner you will see the stone objects of an animistic altar. You are not sure whether you are in this world and in what time. In the tenth century? In biblical times? In the Neolithic Age?