Born in Prague Czech Republic, Monika Bittman graduated from Hollar School of Art in Prague in 1971. She exhibited her early works in ceramic sculpture made of factory fabricated urinals in the municipal restroom gardens in the factory town Bechyne and her ceramics were included in the book Contemporary Ceramics in Czechoslovakia.
After immigrating to the United States in 1979, Bittman lived in New York where she studied anatomical drawing at the Pratt Institute, taught scientific illustration at Long Island University and worked as a freelance medical illustrator.
Since receiving an MFA in painting from the University of New Mexico in 2002, Bittman has been primarily interested in exploring pattern in nature. In acrylic splash paintings, she discovered patterns that gradually emerged from repeated brush strokes. She constructed string sculptures that gave shape to bifurcation patterns and mathematical formulas. She also studied how patterns occur on the surface of water by drawing into wet gesso.
Over the last 6 years, influenced by her study of Japanese sumi-e painting and Chinese ink-splash painting, Bittman has become increasingly receptive to the behaviors of materials. Her most recent work invites nature and its energetic forces to become active participants in the painting process. By manipulating thin oil paint on small panels through tilting, dripping, smearing and blowing, she allows the viscosity of the paint, gravity and time to determine the work’s result.
The patterns arising from Bittman’s process are surprisingly similar to those found in nature. Although she doesn’t paint from nature, just by attending to the physical act of painting and allowing materials to reveal their inherent propensity to organize, she creates images that spontaneously manifest natural patterns.
Monika Bittman has lived, worked and explored the natural world in New Mexico since 1989.