Reports

It is a special place where invited people meet not coincidentally. Only a few of them are not invited. They usually come on the first day in order to discuss and chat together and if they do not have their own topic, the exhibition provides them with stimulation for contemplation. It presents the thing that had occupied the artist with work and thought. A gallery can be any type of space that labels itself a gallery – it could have an entirely public or, on the contrary, entirely private function. Although Jelení Gallery is officially an established independent institution, its name continues to remind us of its original location (on Jelení Street) and bears the intimate character of joining the Czech art scene with the hospitable atmosphere were mulled wine was made and potato pancakes were fried in the courtyard of the former gallery. This gallery, although it is openly and statutorily public, continues to maintain the intimacy and security of a homely environment for the young generation. Generally speaking, the definiteness of the establishment of public and private is unfindable here. If we are striving to enter the public space, we end up lamenting over its privatisation, vanishing and loss, which goes the other way around, in case we are trying to hide from the problems of society in our only seemingly apolitical household.

The oxymoron Kolonie svobody (Colony of Freedom) (a title adopted from the housing development project constructing villas and houses in the Rondocubistic style on the boundary of Vršovice and Vinohrady, one of Petr Dub’s last exhibitions in Kvalitář Gallery, is being transferred to the exhibition in Jelení Gallery. This time, however, it is not using the example of the exterior but the interior of a house. The occupation of public space, appropriation of it with colour, the “bold opinion” expressed by the owner of the façade with a range of colours observed when looking into a box of Smarties – the opinion that condensed itself and was “deduced” into the colour of the façade. The painting of one of the interiors of Kvalitář Gallery derived from the facades of the 1990s but also current years, was supposed to denominate our atomized society. In another room the artist returned to old national securities, national style and will, Gemeinwillen, with which he did not express offence over the loss of values, but rather pointed to the organization of things as they used to be in the time of a geographically structured society at the beginning of the democratic era in an illustrative comparison with its post-November neoliberal version. Dub addresses the simulacral character of the representations (images) through the expression of building facades, through their colour. Thanks to his analytical nature he decodes facades as the remains of areas, where the representation of the real estate owner is utilized in the outward direction towards public space and (non)affiliation to local environment and politics is expressed.

Similarly, we can find these remains of representations in household structures. The interiors of private flats can be read and perceived also as colonies of freedom. The colours of leather or wallpaper that create the background of home scenes, point to neutrality and indifference. Product or artistic design is only very seemingly an aesthetically pleasant decore, its abstract conception can actually lead to formal masking of political contents. Abstraction has the ability to cast a shadow just as well as in another case to make a clear, critical revelation. A fun souvenir from a family vacation in Europe or Africa does not just bring a memory of a private experience; it hauls the weight of historical development with its current consequences, sitting on a marble shelf, that have turned into an antique sentiment, which conceals their disputability to the daily user. But as invited visitors we get a chance to notice this discrepancy in the flat of our friends, parents, in the Jelení Gallery.

Peter Dub, however, does not only work with objects, as an analytic he is interested in methods! If he paraphrases Flusser’s classic Into the Universe of Technical Images, then he is interested in the change that takes place in the image when it loses its representative function and becomes increasingly more a field for “calculating and computing”, for “cosmic telematic dialogue”. The artist cuts four different types of wallpaper and assembles it into a geometric figure; he is interested in the bordering points of connection and the relationship between the whole and the part. Complicated, discussed and dynamic penetrability and clashing of the personal and public is portrayed in the actual construction of the overall image, which in the gallery, similarly to the artist’s previous paintings/objects, consists of a left and right side towards the centre and searches for its centre of gravity. The open series of paintings/objects started in 2014 On the Left and Right from the Centre illustratively testifies about Dub’s need to be involved and at the same time about his concentrated studio work with the geometry of objects and paintings. Through abstraction he pulls a story out of a painting which he shifts outside of the painting into his titles. He transformed the story into a game with physical characteristics of a painting/object, with gravitation, by balancing the materials participating in the construction of the painting, the elements that the painting/object is composed of as some first level or imaginable model of technical paintings the styles of which the artist is still verifying in relation to the real world, bound by the feeling of social responsibility.

Dub devotes another element comprising the overall image of the installation – homemade manual for testing the hardness of the shell of a tortoise, which refers to Zeno’s paradoxes – to the confrontation of a real occurrence with a philosophical problem. This burdening of philosophy and theory with artistic practice may appear to be intentional, perhaps graceless, nevertheless it points to the constant gap in the interdisciplinary dialogue between science, philosophy and art, which can be, however, not only a misunderstanding, but also a dynamic force for further development of an issue. The electronic format of the manual tries to develop a discussion about penetration, actually the constant presence of a public chat in the private zone of a home. In Jelení Gallery, Dub is not trying to evoke an atmosphere of a family fireplace, but, using non-illusive tools, yet with the help of paintings, he is trying to piece together information about the relationship of a home for public discussion. In conclusion an excerpt from the artist’s favourite classic: “Should people approach telematics not for the purpose of being entertained but to help them with conversations, then technical images suddenly change their character. They suddenly become surfaces, which will be used to prepare information and through which people will carry dialogue. They suddenly play that meditative role, which was earlier played by linear texts in correspondence. They become “letters”. The only difference is that images can carry infinitely greater amount of information than texts. Surfaces actually consist of an infinite number of lines. The “art” of writing a letter is almost obsolete. Telematically controlled images can help in revealing yet unsuspected art – image dialogue, which is infinitely richer than when there used to be linear, “historical” dialogues. This type of society creating mutual dialogue through images would be a society of artists.” (Vilém Flusser, Into the Universe of Technical Images, OSVU, Praha 2001, pg. 82.)

Edith Jeřábková

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