The Strength to Dream, Milos Vacik
By Yulia Gottstein
photo by K.M. Baalbaki
It is common to say, ‘if you really want to get to know a country then you have to get to know its people.’ In every issue of Oko! we will do our best to introduce to you the most interesting personalities in the Czech Republic, those who shape our perception of modern Czechia in general and Prague in particular. Today we shall meet a unique Czech artist, Milos Vacik Jr., who will talk to us about his oeuvre and how combining various forms of art can help to see and express the beauty around us.
Milos Vacik is a musician and percussionist, an artist and composer, an illustrator and writer. He admits, all these forms of art are close to his heart and mutually inspire each other.
“Music brings me to the middle of audience, it is a very extroverted activity, full of energy. Painting and writing, on the contrary, are about silence and solitude, a certain kind of meditation. Each brings me joy, I think none of them would be what they are without the others”.
This makes Milos an artist with a very unique set of skills: drawing his inspiration from his travels through South America and Africa, bringing vibrant colours and beats to life through his art and music.
As a musician, Milos has performed with many famous Czech artists such as Laura a jeji tygri, Prazsky Vyber, Kontraband, and the Afro-Latin band. With his positive energy orchestra ‘Tam Tam Batucada’ he has performed all over the world. They play anything: Samba Reggae, Samba Batucada, Rumba, Afro-Samba, and many other rhythms. Vacik Jr. himself plays on a special drum set, ethnic percussion instruments, and also sings. He is considered to be one of the best-known drummers in the Czech Republic.
“I wanted to play drums since I was 7, but ended up studying at art school. However, right after my art school studies I got into the Laura a jeji tygri band, and my life took a new direction. I began studying Cuban rhythms, African and Brazilian rhythms. Music in these countries is supplemented with dances, costumes, fine arts, everything goes together and connects with everything else, and that is a huge inspiration for me.”
In 2019, the Tam Tam Orchestra will celebrate 20 years since its foundation and 15 years from founding the Samba School and Tam Tam Batucada. So currently Milos is preparing to release a new record, to come out in April.
His other passion is creating stunning acrylic paintings and sketches using vibrant colours. His pieces can take almost any form but once again are very much inspired by his travels and passionate love of nature.
“Nature, trees, sun, stars … my life, stories, all of that inspires me. I feel the beauty around me, and I have the need to express it, to share it.”
Just recently, Milos Vacik Jr. has written a book named ‘Pod Hvezdami’ or ‘Under the Stars’, with tales out of ‘One thousand and One Nights’ accompanied by remarkable illustrations inspired by old coloured wood carvings depicting stories of life by the sea and in the desert.
illustration by Milos Vacik
“These are stories about searching, love, silence. In extreme conditions like the desert and the sea, the landscapes of silence and storms – everything feels different. I accompanied each story with colorful illustrations. The book is full of symbols».
The book is also available as an audiobook, with special music composed by Milos and the legendary Czech musician and performer Alan Vitous. The music enhances the experience of the book and carries the listener into a fantasy of landscapes, the depths of the universe, the wind from the desert and the sound of waves from the sea. The two magical voices are from the actors Josef Somr and Viktor Preiss.
“It is a fulfilled dream. The music is actually a soundtrack, sort of an addition to the text. It’s ambient, meditative, calm. I would say that it is completely different from all my other, rhythm-charged recordings.”
Both the book and its audio version are available online on Supraphonline.cz (text) and Argo.cz (audio).
Vacik Jr. has selected one of the illustrations from the book as a gift to Oko! Magazine’s readers. The illustration is originally from the Night Pilgrim story in the book. As Milos explains, he selected this particular picture because the first issue of our magazine will come out during Christmas, and it is very important time of the year for recapitulating, thinking about dreams and wishes as well as making new plans.
The pilgrim in the story is also thinking about his way forward, he is on his way somewhere just like each of us.
“He is getting stronger step by step, he has his own aim, just as we all do. With this picture I would like to wish for Oko! readers the strength to follow their dreams and walk towards them… I hope my picture will inspire you”.
The illustration can be found as a large poster in the back of the magazine or a smaller version on the next page.