Although Tjepkema lives in The Netherlands for five years, he spends half of this time
in Kyjov where his associations with Tichy and with other artists continue. In 1997 he
publishes some paintings with the music group Narajama and in 1998 he publishes the novel
A Fairy Tale which includes a five page description of an early meeting with Tichy.
He also writes about Petr Cmelik, the other young artist most closely associated with
Tichy in the last two decades.
By 1998, Tjepkema’s career as an artist now looks promising but it is at this
time that he begins to suffer mental breakdowns. He is incarcerated first in 1998
in a Dutch mental health facility for doing an artwork that he titles Hell (W)hole
and then, later, on several occasions for artworks involving his townhouse and
performances around his home town of Rotterdam. It is after the authorities threaten
to lock him up indefinitely in a mental institution that he decides to move back
to his other native land, Canada.
By 1998 Tichy has ceased making photographs and has gone into retirement. He continues
to have some altercations with the authorities, most notably for public drunkenness.
Tichy is not yet famous and his art is not being exhibited or sold on the open art market.
In Canada Tjepkema is put on a disability pension and is often taken to the mental hospital
but for only very short periods of time. During this period he is highly creative and writes
several books in addition to creating a new oeuvre to his visual art involving objects,
boxes, costumes and optical devices. He also begins to make Lessendgames one of which
includes Tichy and his house. He films these “reality art” projects and Tichy appears
in a ten minute segment.
By 2002 Tjepkema is again using drugs and documents this in his book Confessions of a Dutch
Drug User. After an aborted attempt to move to The Netherlands, Tjepkema returns to Canada
and embarks on a campaign of performance artworks which leads to several incarcerations in
mental hospitals and in the local prison. During this time he continues to visit Kyjov and
makes sure that Tichy is informed of his absurdist campaigns in Canada.
By the year 2000 Tjepkema has stopped doing exhibitions and refuses to sell any of his artwork.
Except for a few public displays in parks and town squares, Tjepkema’s new art is known only
to a private audience. During this time he concentrates on performance art and eventually
takes his act onto local stages. Later he gets involved again with musicians and forms a group
called The God Show which then becomes Theatre Obscura.
In 2004 Tjepkema is arrested for an artwork involving a manifesto, which includes references to Tichy,
and The National Art Gallery of Canada. He is later arrested on other charges and in total spends
over a month in prison. By 2006 all charges have been dropped but Tjepkema now refuses to exhibit his
art in Canada. He writes a new work called Adventures of an Absurdist which in part details his
experiences with the Canadian legal situation.
By 2005 Tichy has become world famous. After his breakthrough in Spain and after winning the
New Discovery Award in Arles, Tichy exhibits in the Kunsthaus in Zurich, Switzerland. Tjepkema returns
to Kyjov surprised that all this has happened. Tichy informs him that he has been betrayed and newspaper
articles soon appear about Tichy’s anger and disagreement with these public displays of his art.
Scandal begins to attach itself to his name and his fame now goes beyond the borders of the art world.
In December of 2005 he appears in a ten minute segment on Television Nova, a commercial station
in The Czech Republic.