Profiles

Searching for the new identity of an artefact, which is static and at the same time has a potential ability of movement, characteristic minimalistic means, lyricism and yet unsentimental pragmatism. The ability to ask questions related to the current relationship of contemporary civilization to nature, individual freedom and its commitments to society, a strong feeling for creativity of cultural and geographical differences. This is how we may characterize Ivan Kafka´s work in general. His work is unique and at the same time open to a broad spectrum of interpretations. He can address the viewers in a simple and universally understandable language – without verbosity, esoteric symbols or additional speculative commentaries. His work has its firm place on the contemporary international art scene.
Kafka is known especially for his great land-art installations, in which he puts a basically utilitarian object in new relations to events in nature (for example his long-term project entitled Space of Freedom (and Gloom) – modified compositions of windsocks in different parts of Europe. However, he is also interested in investigating the possibilities of enclosed, architecturally firmly determined spaces (for example his interior arrangements of table-tennis balls, halberds, arrows, pinwheels or clock hands which move around but do not show the time, or his recent installation of a suspended, exactly defined plane of pieces of white cotton wool which is an artificial evocation of a cloudy sky). Large formats in Kafka´s work are a challenge to deal with a given space, give it a new sense and order. He uses multipliable means, which in themselves have a quality of some kind of model situation.
Each Kafka´s work is integral in the sense of the unity of the general and the private. But it is mainly the private that steers Kafka´s creativity. It is potentially present in his large “public” installations, free of unnecessary proclamations. However, from time to time Kafka feels a strong need to focus solely on the private level. It is a kind of private identification of issues that he is primarily concerned with, a research of the essential values of the macro-world to which his installations are related, a composed reflection about the paradoxical relationship between the natural and the artificial. In these cases Kafka chooses small formats. He does not make a small sculpture or a small installation but he writes his thoughts about space in his private diary.
Such relics of his privacy are also his three plexiglass cubes 6 by 6 by 6 cm, which Kafka displays under the titles “Unseizable Capture”, “Seeming Nothing, Something” and “Close Difference”. The first cube determines the space of a fluff of gossamer, which happens to be a folk symbol of a beautiful, sunny Indian summer. The second cube contains fine poplar-tree seeds covered by silky white hairs resembling cotton wool. The third cube contains layers of spruce-tree needles which does not change throughout the year and larch-tree needles which turn brown and fall in winter. Natural materials do not demonstrate the changes in nature but Kafka´s experiences with nature and especially the really strong impact nature has on his life. Moreover, the exact cube represent the perfect spatial formula. Kafka has always considered a cube to be a basic and “completely free” form. Thanks to their size the objects enable direct contact which is relativised by the initial thought which is the unstable border between seizability and non-seizability, a desire to “touch something which is not even meant to be touched but is extremely important” and also the importance of the given moment and memory: “The most inconspicuous situations may become the most pressing ones in course of time.” (I. Kafka)

Hana Rousová

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