Reports

Creating paintings with hidden meanings understandable only to experts and the devoted was an utterly conscious but not completely marginal practise during the renaissance. This convention certainly wasn’t dominant but from the perspective of the social role of so-called elite creation could had been much more reckless and indifferent towards an ordinary spectator than contemporary art over the past forty years may have seemed. Naturally in the preceding and following periods in art history we can find symbolic artefacts that we accept only selectively, for instance for their craft virtuosity, visual liking and formability, but which we can’t comprehend in their entirety. Eventually we are comfortable in the situation where we can just passively observe and not truly see anything because the inner message with its symbolism seems to be incomprehensible and distant. If we visit a place where symbolic scenes are represented, we are grateful for at least the opportunity of passive and relaxing observation, for the possibility to recognise what we already know and what is being served to us in the package of illusive charm. Anticipated existence of the false bottom in the magazine of unreadable scenes, its boundless depth can take the last remains of our resolution to seek lost keys of interpretation and to complete them in a functioning bundle. In John Berger’s words: “…one of the main forms of the existence of evil is overlooking what we have in front of out eyes…“

This reflection was inspired by my recent visit to Pavel Příkaský’s atelier. In his still lifes and moving pictures created in collaboration with Miroslava Večeřová we observe objects in the likeness of illusionist stage property or schemes referring to a specific trick. Hands, the gripping instrument, dominate amongst these ritual, seemingly rather ordinary, objects. An important topic to which Příkaský often returns represents a white collar shirt that strikingly resembles a clerical garment. In these paintings all the objects appear like an enchant formula and essential ritual tools for practice which turns natural things into supernatural. Individual subjects are portrayed as traces referring to an absent entirety, to an event that passed, or even to a person that has been long awaited.

Pavel Příkaský creates paintings of a deep symbolic nature with the minimum of painting tools that paradoxically attracts mere observation. Recently a quality of duality strongly pervades his paintings and his thinking. On one hand, Příkaský relies on soberly assigned painting traces and the maximum compositional clarity of his paining. On the other hand, he depicts objects or scenes which in their relations represent irrational echoes of a deeper symbolic sphere. Příkaský places the principle of duality within a simply labelled topic of a painting, or rather within clarity of the motive and its subsequent bedim. He frames his paintings as blurred and incomplete views with reduced contrast often on the edge of optical visibility. Craft ingenuity and process in how to appraise the potential of light texture in thin and almost monochromatic painting on white canvas is typical for this author. Symbolism of his painting style points to a dual, shadow existence of things in a soft fresco-like colour spectrum. The forefront blends with the background, objects are disappearing and reappearing in somewhat broken movement.

Michal Pěchouček

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