Reports

The sixty-four years (born 1950) old Václav Stratil is one of the legends of Czech visual arts. For the last three decades, he has been respected for his works that span drawing, painting and photography, and also for his lively dialogue with artists of several generations including his students at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Brno. His current creative method can be well described by his own words as the “post-entropic principle”, a creative orientation in a system that reached a state of utmost disorderliness. This principle can be understood as the artist’s personal reaction to the post-modern break-up of the value system, as his deliberate intention to base his work on contradictions, and the necessity to have a committed attitude to symbolic reality. He openly professes to the legacy of Dada and Punk movements. However, by playful symbolic operations, he often verifies their poetic effects (including an occasional crossing the limits of social acceptability). In Stratil’s work, the emphasis on imagination and emotional experience is shown through tenderness as well as provocation, through hedonistic insatiability as well as ascetic discipline, through emphasising the everydayness and spiritual values, originality as well as imitativeness, introversion as well as eccentricity. When speaking about art, Stratil himself likes to use terms such as empathy, telepathy, detective story or sci-fi. Words of the gallerist Filip Polanský who described the exhibition titled Broth of Crying (Vývar z pláče) as a metaphysical comic can in this light be also considered a kind of telepathic bridge. He used the words of Stratil himself without having heard them before. Václav Stratil can be in fact regarded a distinctive institution of the Czech art scene. His surroundings often refer to him or oppose him in order to specify own boundaries. He is a person of many internal conflicts and indisputable poetic talent. In his various roles such as painter, cartoonist, photographer or musician, he stimulates the domestic art community by giving an example of work which is lived as situational performance. For this reason, the Stratil’s work is partially non-transferable – in the institutional as well as local manner. However, this very intangibility of his artistic practice is a component of Stratil’s role in forming the Czech cultural identity.

Jiří Ptáček

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