Ryosuke Cohen, artist, Osaka, Japan, 2002
I have been on friendly terms with him. I shall never forget his kindness
and his great talent as a mail artist.
Mayumi Handa + Shozo Shimamoto, artists, Japan, 2002
He was a good mail-art friend of ours and he was
an important mail-artist in your country.
Marilyn Dammann, Baraga, artist, Michigan, USA, 2002
I have exchanged with Ivan for a long time, and I will miss his presence.
It was strange – after such a long time, and I only received images from him,
until recently, he began to include some short verbal communication.
Anna Boschi, artist, Castel s. Pietro, Italy, 2002
I was in correspondence with Ivan since many years and I appreciated
very much his visual poetry works. I remember him with great pleasure.
Patrizia Gioia, artist, Milano, Italy, 2002
Ivan was our „Friend of Soul“ in this project of Mail Art
and he will be in our hearts for all time.
Ken Miller, artist, Newtown, Pa, USA, 2002
He was one of my oldest contacts, and one who never ceased to amaze me
with his brilliant work. His pieces, which on the surface seemed simplistic,
often had deeper meanings and elaborate linguistic puns.
When Mary and I travelled to Prague in 2000, we met Ivan in person.
He was an odd character. As we walked around Prague with him,
he would speak of complex historical and philosophical concepts,
which we tried to follow but found ourselves lost much of the time.
The last pice of mail art he sent me, in January 2002,
was the drawing of a tree stump, which indicates to me
that Ivan knew full well he didn´t have long to live.
I only wish I would have known... his letter didn´t say anything about it.
Of course, that´s what we always say... if I had only known.
Ivan was a brilliant, creative, funny man,
and he will be deeply missed by many of his mail art friends.
Adriena Simotova, famous academic painter, Prague , 2002
There have passed many years since I visited Ivan and saw his drawings.
I liked very much some of them and the most important was,
that I believed them.
We met scarcely, but even so, when we did,
it was not a superficial social meeting, because there always remained
some hidden unreplied question on its bottom.
Josef Janda, musician and painter, Prague
If one day, the art historians decide to study the work of Ivan Preissler,
they will have to expect a difficult task for two reasons.
Today, his work is dispersed all over the world, and secondly,
the character of his work exceeds into spheres
which will succesfully resist against unilateral art historien´s interpretations.
Just because essentially it fulfils the Marcel Duchamp´s prophecy
about the modern artist´s task in today´s society:
“The artist of the future will come from the underground…“
The Preissler´s work comes indeed from the underground.
It is not directly programmatic. The reason is,
that there was no other possibility. The normalization´s practices reality
prevented him, as well as it happened with many other artists,
to become a professional.
This reality caused that the majority of our contemporaries
were permanently thrown back into the row of real socialism consumers or,
some of them were succesfully domesticated as producers of commercial junk.
Those who did not give up the authentic creative search in there work,
were qualified as excentric individuals in the eyes of the terrified public,
and as inconvenient chronic complainers for the communist governement,
who never forgave anybody´s deviating from the line.
It was typical for the paranoic totality system,
that he denoted the most capable individuals as his biggest enemies.
Ivan Preissler was also under the care of certain institution.
His walk-out abroad was therefore no suprise
but the most reasonable solution under the given circumstancies.
The friendship, which arose later among us was inspirative.
I dont know whether I would be a better or a worse “artist“ without it,
but I certainly would be completely different.
Such experience does not occur every day in our life.
And there is just the sense and importance of it.
However Preissler´s work is full of antagonisms,
it exceeds over that, what is habitually ment by the word ART.
It is different. It is a unique document of a very peculiar world comprehension
and of living on his own way and at his own risk.
And that is why he is more close to us,
than if he aimed to create only esthetic artifacts. The task of the artist
is not to be member of a beautifying association but,
to bring a testimony about his personality and the time he lived in.
I think that this task has been realized in Preissler´s case
Pavel Rejchrt, painter, Prague
I saw Ivan´s work for first time in about 1979.
There were for example, collections of post-cards from the zoo,
with a detailed instruction for setting together the necks and heads
of four hippopotamus, so that they composed a real Behémot.
There were also registrations of differently configurated spots
on ten or fifteen sheets of equal size, whose firmly set order determined
the composition of a complete mini exhibition from one single envelope.
It reminded me every time of the hat of a magician, and it seemed to me,
that its drawers presented a whole universe of such delicate
and from the world anxiously isolated magics.
Petr Pouba, painter
Ivan Preissler studied at the Grammar school in Dobříš and lived in Příbram.
I also grew up in that mystic town of medieval penury and broken culture,
beneath the Svatá Hora and the mining towers of Březové Hory,
where still the spirit of the miners´ homes was storming up
and down like an outlaw frightened from his lair.
This experience alloved me more than it was with the others,
to believe in Ivans imaginary stories and theories.
His capacity of narrating was extraordinary rich
and it was difficult to found in it something addressly for you,
because everything was common and out of time,
and you tried in vain to separate the reality from the speculation.
Ivan is able to carry himself away through his art of speaking,
his sparkling imagination and knowledge, his fireworks of ideas
with there combinations, so that finally he sems to be overwhelmed
by the weight of the fact, that he is speaking to a human being.
But at last, the attentive listener has to recognize,
that his truth is bare and cold.
Ivan Preissler as artist is a diametrically different figure.
His drawings are not full of fireworks of ideas, there is only one,
which is precisely worked out and brought to the end.
The nearly ascetic sobriety of his creative expressing arose
as a dike against the danger which is hidden in the modern art
with its riches of expression means.
In this aspect, Ivan economizes and is grudging. The effort to simplify appears
as a protest against all kind of esthetic junk, without leaving out
anything of the real esthetic tradition.
Ivan´s drawings are pure and precise like hardly any of our contemporaries.
They are ment seriously and with self-certainty,
because there stands the man and the artist behind them.
As to the contents of Ivan´s work, he presents a most smart question
to the spectator, betting on his intelligence and moral forces above all.
Will he bear the sight of it, or will he bend aside and close the eyes
like the monks in his delicate pen-and-ink drawings.
Yet, after his walk-out, the sharply black and white drawings
began to lose the edge, and colour penetrated inside of them..
During his stay in Madrid, Ivan „completed“ his studies on postimpressionist
nudes and statues, being not so much out of the modish and lucrative trend.
Nevertheless, in New York, the classic world of violence
resounded at full force with its urgent necessity of searching and of morale,
and of a world of civilian problems, bringing an old-new imagination,
with stress on the men´s internal life.
And Ivan immediatelly succumbed under that pressure.
There were arising large monotypes, real paintings.
A series of heads expressing that something happened in them,
worked out with coloured pencils,
as well as a series of small cultured oil paintings on a grey cardboard,
using colour and a flat brush, and nothing else at all,
as if they had been worked out by the nature itself.
This imagination, supported by his own inner world and knowledge
and based on his personal experiences, which are not easy to find for you:
big question marks and rows of exclamation marks,
more than full stops behind each of his drawings – all that is Ivan Preissler.