“Sex and skincare are two of Andrej Dúbravský’s many hobbies outside of art; and his paintings have the same glow you might have after a hydra facial combined with a three-day celery-juice fast.) In one of his painting series “Runners,” which depicts a group of men who are running next to each other and have mythical horns attached to their heads, Dúbravský has continuously been referencing the same gay porn video. The paintings are alienated screenshots from an anniversary video of a gay porn company in which thirty porn actors are running on the beach. Three years ago, he had stumbled upon the film and has since chopped it up in small frames, which reappear in the form of paintings—sometimes of majestic size, Wet sand, for example, measures nearly three meters in height. This monumentality intertwined with the imagery of nude men, which appear more like souls who jumped out of a fairytale your grandmother read to you as a child—uncertain if they are demonic or angelic—emphasizes the various forms of desire and sexual potency inherent to Dúbravský’s paintings, without surrendering to merely sex-driven, animalistic appetites. It is not about sex, and yet it is. It is the same dichotomy as between beauty and darkness and romanticism and the perverse. Dúbravský hybridizes these chasms through acrylicized smoke, which wafts across both utopian and dystopian gardens.”

— Excerpt from “The Age of Anxiety,” Claire Koron Elat’s essay that was published alongside Dúbravský’s show “Anxiety of Subimago” at Dittrich & Schlechtriem.

In this interview, Dúbravský and Koron Elat discuss the anxiety of Gen Z and millennials, wellness culture, and the archetype of an artist.


CLAIRE KORON ELAT: We live in an age of anxiety. Without listing all the factors that contribute to that, it seems to be a general cultural vibe. What are your anxieties?

ANDREJ DÚBRAVSKÝ: I often feel like I miss out on things—typical FOMO. And I tend to make my life more complicated. My horrible mindset is often visible in my paintings. People look at the subject of a painting and think about all these theoretical concepts, and how anxiety is reflecting in the subject, but my anxiety is also reflected in the actual surface of the painting.

I’m not sure if my anxieties are important for society at large, or whether they have evolved based on what I see in society. Maybe I’m the problem. There’s always something I’m stressed about. I once self-diagnosed myself with a horrible disease I don’t actually have. I was going through the worst phase of my life, thinking I would die while trying to make this painting.

CKE: A study has proven that Gen Z members and millennials are more anxious than past generations. Self-diagnosing yourself with terrible illnesses is part of that lifestyle or generational problem I guess.

AD: I recently discovered a really cool laboratory in Slovakia where they do tests for everything. You can check your liver or kidney levels, for example. Some people think it’s a joke, but in the end, you’re just taking your health into your own hands.

CKE: Is it also a wellness center?

AD: No, it’s an actual lab. I was thinking about the lab in the context of reverse aging. There is a guy named Bryan Johnson who has actually reversed his biological age. And the lab could probably be useful for his project.

CKE: I heard about him. I think he’s 45—and looks like he’s 45.

AD: We shouldn’t judge his appearance, one day he might discover some useful information for all of us.

CKE: I’m just saying he looks like he’s aging and not reverse aging. Which makes me think about the word adulting, and the whole idea of growing up. I feel like the fear of becoming adults is particular to millennials and Gen Z.

AD: I have this problem too. Sometimes, I forget that I have a house and am an adult. It almost feels like a play in which we’re playing adults. I really try to be more of an adult though, so I don’t disappoint my mother. I might be a bit traumatized by her. She used to punish me for not being handy in the house. I still feel like I’m in this position. I’d love to grow up mentally, but I’m not sure it’s possible.

CKE: This might also be specific to the creative industry. You have so much freedom that it isn’t necessary to grow up and be a real adult. It would be different if you were a banker.

AD: If I needed to think about money and how I pay for the roof or my car, then I would need to grow up. But I’m not forced to; I can just spend my earnings from my paintings. Which feels like a total blessing.

Andrej Dúbravský, “Anxiety of Subimago,” at Dittrich & Schlechtriem

CKE: Some cities also force you to grow up. When you live in a city like New York or London, you’re more or less forced to constantly “hustle.”

AD: There’s a different type of hustling in the creative industry. You go out, meet people, and be nice, but in the end, I still find it easier than thinking about reconstructing my house, cutting grass, and building a new studio. This is the sort of bullshit that people call real life, you know?

Even villages make you grow faster than the hustling art life in capital art cities. When I go to New York, I feel like it’s vacation. You go there for three months, and it’s really exhausting for some reason, but mentally chillaxing.

CKE: What do you do when you’re there?

AD: I always rent a studio. I have this internal pressure to make something gorgeous, the best paintings ever. Special works have always been birthed while I was there.

In a way, something is always a little different. I often wouldn’t use them in exhibitions.


Andrej Dúbravský, “Thoughts evolved already,” 2023

CKE: You have an alter ego, Nadja. Is she mainly in the garden or in cities?

AD: She’s this secretive persona and is totally connected to the garden, especially the vegetable section. Actually, I wanted to take her to a capital city but I don’t think she’s ready— she has never been present in the company of a bigger group of people. But there was this writer from the National Gallery who wanted to put her in a show. That scared me because I don’t want her to become more famous and more interesting than Andrej Dubravsky. My ego was really destroyed. Imagine: I would have to go to my openings in drag for the rest of my life. That’s not what I want.

CKE: But you can control her. Worst case: you let her die.

AD: She’s cool because she’s not very anxious. She’s more powerful and can do things without too many stupid questions or being insecure. I try to implement this in my own identity.

Andrej Dúbravský, “Anxiety of Subimago,” at Dittrich & Schlechtriem

CKE: You also have many hobbies besides art, and these are implicitly a part of your practice.

AD: I have always had some obsessions, which were almost always connected to nature. One season, when I bought the house, it was the fruit trees. This led me to obsessively research about them, and I ended up moving on to perennials. Then I collected fossils and read all about them.

CKE: I also know that you’re really into skincare.

AD: Yes. I haven’t done any skincare for the last two weeks. I used sunblock, which I wouldn’t wash off my face at night because I was going through hell mentally.

It’s the worst thing ever: when you’re feeling good, you’re doing your skincare, taking your vitamins, supplements, eating one broccoli a day, and then when something terrible happens, where you should do these things even more precisely, you just forget it, which is horrible.

CKE: Wellness culture has become an inherent part of the art world. But it also contributes to cultural anxiety because you hyper-obsess about these really expensive skincare products that you probably don’t really need. Do you really need a serum that’s 300 euros or will one for 50 euros do the job?

AD: It was surprising for a lot of people that skincare was in my press release but I don’t want people to have the impression that I only like nature.

CKE: Also, people maybe think that skincare is an easy topic. But it goes back to the excessiveness of neoliberal capitalism and consumer culture.

AD: I never felt inflation hit until I went for Botox. Usually, it’s around 70 euros, but this time it was 110 euros for the same amount.

CKE: It’s the same for artwork prices. But you would probably be more willing to pay more for an artwork because it has more cultural value than a face cream.

AD: Probably yes. But the faces of some people act as cultural value.

CKE: If that’s your job, then it maybe has more pop culture value. Then again, your appearance is a part of most jobs—especially in the culture industry.

AD: I really like this archetype of artists who play with how artists should look—like old and macho painters or expecting artists to have a big gray beard.

Andre Dúbravský, “Me as Andrea Dora as Neptune by Bronzino, but with cats,” 2023. Photo: Viki Kollerova

CKE: Do you think you look like an artist?

AD: I don’t know. Maybe I’m just paranoid, trying to be too rational about things that aren’t rational or trying to find structure or connections where they don’t really exist. But when you see the kind of art that is being hyped right now, and you see what the artists look like, then they all have this interesting—

CKE: Yes. It’s an old development that goes back to Warhol and Basquiat, at the very least. As an artist, you have a particular style, you are a personality, and the way you look matters—not as much as your work, but it still does matter. The way you look is a form of a capital.

AD: Something unconscious happens when people see someone in a uniform. Research has been done about “bad” people who tend to be perceived as reliable when they wear a blazer,

just because of the clothes. And you can translate that to some shitty artist with a big beard. He might be perceived as a deeper and smarter individual.

CKE: Which means that you can deceive others by the way you present yourself. It is a form of controlling your image and consequently your work.

AD: I see that you are a writer and art historian, which are quite serious things. But you have some sexy photos out there, like your WhatsApp profile photo.

CKE: I think that the image of an art writer and editor has shifted today. I think it’s more interesting when there is something beyond the written work, something that is more pop culture-esque, more fashionable, and not only dry art history. Mixing topics like fashion, skincare, and still discussing the state of culture is more interesting than just being serious all the time.

AD: Since I was a kid, I’ve been totally obsessed with pop culture. I was in love with Michael Jackson, which is kind of disturbing because I had weird, sexy dreams with Michael Jackson giving me a bath when I was around 12 and hit puberty. I didn’t know at the time that he was into little boys either.

I had other dreams with him. Like of me in the village church with my grandma and he would jump out of the altar. He would dance and all the people would start singing. Or of us grilling bacon at a campfire and suddenly Michael Jackson would appear with an acoustic guitar, which I’ve never seen before.

I also love Madonna and Lady Gaga, who was so ambitious. It inspires me. One of my other biggest idols is Arnold Schwarzenegger, because I really liked that idea of being from some Austrian mountain and then going to the U.S. and trying to be the biggest star and ending up being a governor. It was so cool.

People talk about how hustle culture creates too much pressure. Even in art school, there is this narrative of not putting too much pressure on students, not pressuring them to produce. I’m totally tired of it. I identify more with Arnold, who recommended less sleep, worked three jobs, went to the gym, and took an acting class.

People from shitholes still go to New York and try to be famous in pop culture or art. I can sort of identify with this approach. Many people in Western countries are like, “you’re pressuring me to produce.” Yeah, capitalism is horrible. But for people from somewhere else, it feels like an American dream.

CKE: I think people tend to overanalyze things, especially when they’re in privileged positions. They’re just creating fake issues.

AD: If you love what you do, you just do it. Then you sleep eight hours, eat one broccoli a day, and take your vitamins. Yeah, this is what I’m going to do tonight.


Photography of Andrej Dubravsky

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