She works with chunks of wood, which are not ideal, perfect or symmetric. However they have a character they are human.
She was working on the construction of highways and bridges. After that she moved on to creating art. The kind where she needs to saw, cut, sand, polish, paint in other words just get her hands dirty. Her paintings reveal the soul of the wood.
„I work big chunks of wood, I choose only those that are imperfect and flawed in some way and I keep them that way. Often they are not sanded. I keep the grooves. They have their own character. I have touched, cut, formed, changed, sanded, treated, painted, polished and took photos of each of my creations, none was made by a machine, none just fell out of a machine already made.
That is why they are not flawless and symmetrical. They are organic, flawed or imperfect, they are like humans.
Her name is Jana Kanova and she is from Banska Bystrica. Wood is a material that she keeps returning to. She also admits that she cant read anything from the tree rings, she keeps the wood as it is, natural. More about her creations and job as well her exhibition in a cafe Dusok you will hear in our interview.
You come from Presov, you have studied at Technical university in Kosice. Who or what has brought you to Banska Bystrica?
After I graduated university, my husband and I just wandered around multiple czech and slovak towns and construction sites. After a while we decided to settle in Banska Bystrica.
At which construction sites have worked on after you have graduated?
I have started at a czech company Stavby mostu Praha. I have worked there on construction of Plzen to Rozvadov highway. Later the company established a subsidiary company in Slovakia, they have moved me to Stavby mostov Slovakia where I worked for fifteen years.
On a construction of which highways have you worked in Slovakia?
The most significant were highway section Mengusovce to Janovce, highway R2 Ozdany, R1 Zarnovica to Sasovske podhradie or Banska Bystrica northern bypass.
And after that you have switched your focus on art…
Yes I did. I have always loved to create something. I left the construction business when my children were born, two boys. When they got older a bit I started to look around for some work. I have decided that the most meaningful decision was to set something I love to the highest priority.
How long have you been interested in creating art?
I feel like I have been doing it forever. Only difference is that before I did it for fun or to relax.
In your art you use wood, clay or metal… all of them are natural materials. Which one is your favourite to work with?
My favourite is wood. But that is now, when I took a course for work with a wire I had a metal period. For a while I sewed bags and handbags for everyone around me. Here my practicality showed a lot. But wood, that is a material that I will always return to.
Wood is also motiv of your exhibition at the Dusok cafe. A series of eleven wooden images that carry the name Brother Tree. All of them have male names. What is the meaning of this exhibition?
We humans are superior to animals and plants. That is why symbolicali trees are like our brothers. I would love to see trees grow everywhere. We live like one organism, we breathe and trees are producing oxygen for us. Nations that live in nature, when they need wood, their shaman or leader finds a tree that is suitable to cut down. I don’t know how they do it. Maybe he feels the energy of the tree… I liked the wood from an apple tree that has fallen in my mothers garden. It was clear to me that I could use the wood from that tree. I have called these pictures after males from my family and that are close to me. Simpli my brothers.
Where do you look for acceptable material for your next art piece? Trinity pictures Rastislav, Richard and Tomas are made from big chunks of oak. They must be really heavy.
In most cases I look for fallen trees or chunks of wood that are already cut in the garden or forest. But for this exhibition I needed bigger chunks than usual. So I went to the local sawmill and kindly asked and the guys there gave me three big pieces of oak. And yes they are very heavy. Some are so heavy that only my husband could help me when I wanted to move them. He is one of the males in my life, and he also has his own picture. Chunks of elm are from a tree that had to be cut down because it was ill.
Except for oak there are pictures from lilac, elm, walnut and agate wood. Which one is your favourite to work with?
The agate and walnut wood I used comes from trees that have been cut down right behind my house. It is an exceptional wood. The wood is hard with a strong colour. I worked with the wood from the lilac tree for the first time and even sanded it was still lightly colored. Elm wood has an interesting smell and color. But it is hard to say which one is my favourite to work with. I have never thought about it. I always love my last creation the most.
Each and every piece that is displayed presents wood in its natural form and that is what makes them special. What precisely do you do to make your wooden pictures look the way you want them to look?
I love this first part. First I need to find the right piece of wood, that is the basic thing. Wood is unique, with each cut it could be completely different. After I have found the adequate piece of wood I will make a base. I will design the size and color. After that comes part called hard work. Cutting, sanding, polishing and painting, just getting my hands dirty, that is the fun part. Finally combine everything and it’s done.
Everything is handmade, is it hard work?
It is not easy work. When I need to pick up something heavy or saw, my husband or my boys will help me.
Can you read tree rings?
If I can read tree rings? How old was the tree? North and south side? Or reading any information from tree rings? I can’t make out anything interesting from them. I’m more interested in the shape and the structure of the wood. I try to keep it as natural as I can.
You gave your workshop name ennacca. What does this word mean and what does it mean to you?
I also talk about this on my website, the word ennacca cant be found in any language. I was searching it on the internet and I went through some dictionaries but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I just liked the combination of letters and the sound when you pronounce it. When I write in small letters it is beautiful. As a logo I use a little bird, it is a symbol of wind and freedom.
Have you thought about going back to your previous profession?
My old college has asked me if I would be interested to work in her team. I said yes and partially I have returned to bridge construction. The thing that convinced me was that this position was about environment and environmental protection and that works for me.
On a construction of what bridge could we meet you in the future?
I’m part of a team on the R2 Krivan to Mytna and in a few days we will start with the construction.
What are you going to be more focused on now that you have a regular job again, will be the job or your art creating the main priority?
It looks like the art is going to be the priority. Creating something is so fun for me, it’s also my passion and work, simply my life.