“It was not just a repetition of the act of usurping of the classic works and reproducing them under his own name, because objectively and for Stratil’s also subjectively it could have worked just with Boštík with all aspects that this exact option has, starting with the fact that Stratil is Boštík‘s younger friend, who really loves him, despite the fact that just Boštík’s works really have the spiritual quality that makes them something extraordinary, to the the fact that Boštík is now primarily a subject of a market and a victim of our fast newly rich.”1 A passage from a text by Jiří Valoch, written a year after Stratil exhibited photographic enlargements of black and white reproductions of paintings by Václav Boštík2, seems to be an appropriate introduction to the topic of the exhibition Landscapes. On the one hand Valoch mentiones basic statements that led to its organisation, but using specific examples it points out the layers of meaning, which in our case, are specifically because of the chosen concept, suppressed. The semantic and contextual diversity of Stratil‘s works here is suppressed by the conceptual key of the exhibition, which is observing the artist’s creative approach to other people and their work.
Should the key fulfil its purpose, it is necessary for it to unlock the room, or at least the door of the house. At the exhibition, where we, next to Boštík‘s reproductions, present a photo album from the second half of the nineties, in which Stratil handled the personal and family history in different ways, or album created by his father and exhibited by the artist as ready-made, but also for example the “mutual monochromes” with Jan Nálevka from the end of the same decade or recent, partner-painted paintings with Martin Helán, however, we can still trace Stratil’s continuous interest in “authorial connection”. Provided Jiří Valoch in his text says that the usurpation could work just with Boštík,3 he covers the aspects of intimacy and intensity that Stratil is attracted to in the long term. If we mention, for example, “stealing” of the principle of symmetrical portraits from the photo collection by Jiří David Hidden forms (1991-1995) and their use for self-portraits (1998)4, or the colouring in of his father’s teaching tables (Latin, 2009), a strong personal relationship was always a fundamental dimension which preceded the creation of such works. The variable in this direction was (and remains) only the level of articulation of the relationship and of course the role of collective work, citation or appropriation in the context of contemporary theoretical debates. Should his works, in the nineties, be seen as a commentary on the identity of the image and the importance of authorship, or as movements in quadrature proximity-distance-originality-non originality, ie within the intellectual horizons of this phase of Czech post-modernism, with the transition into the new millennium there has been increasingly promoted the perspective of personal involvement.
Stratil‘s motive may be based on the relation to another person, but also on a specific artistic collection or an individual art piece. It can not be strange to him, it must catch him, he must be interested, or at least be irritatred. “The combination of modernism and postmodernism,” thus happens somehow unusually – as calling the personal commitment and intimacy back into the spotlight.
The title of this exhibition is derived from a photo collection Czech landscape (1998-1999)5. That was arranged by Stratil as a map of his professional partners and friends. If these photos appear alongside other series, such as photographic Couples (2002-2003 and 2015-2016), we want to emphasise this very level of personal maps. The thoroughness and persistence of drawing through out is the first aspect that does not have a competition in the Czech art scene. The second and even more important aspect for us, is the increasing need for an intense relationship. Without wanting to prefer its psychological interpretation, we need to realise that we see Stratil as a solitaire focused mainly on the investigation of himself. The exhibition Landscapes does not deny this dimension of his artistic work, but reminds us of the importance of establishing a relationship and its public manifestation of a coherent and distinct line within his work. I would not be surprised, however, if you would have, besides intellectual game, passion, humor or pathos, also noticed loneliness that fatally follows those who so strongly urge for the other person.
1. Valoch, Jiří: The art combining modernism and postmodernism. In: Daněk, Ladislav (ed.): Václav Stratil / Drawings 1955-2000. Olomouc Art Museum, Olomouc 2000, pp. 65.
2. Václav Stratil. Collective exhibition, Nová síň Gallery, Prague 1997.
3. Also important was the resemblance of the enlarged reproductions of Boštík’s pictures with Stratil’s ink cross-hatching drawings from the second half of the 80s.
4. Václav Stratil. Hidden forms. Behémót Gallery, Prague, 1998.
5. In the enlargements of the publicly presented one only once so far – at the exhibition with the same name in Malá galerie Galerie Rudolfinum in Prague (1999).
- The exhibition is called Landscapes00:00:04.401
- because we wanted to cover Václav Stratil´s work back to the nineties,00:00:06.899
- and we were looking for a key to the conception00:00:15.890
- and while looking back we kept coming across a series called Czech Landscape00:00:19.558
- which was exhibited in 1999 in Rudolfinum00:00:30.437
- and hasn´t been on show since then.00:00:36.765
- It is a series of photographs, the largest photographs Václav ever made,00:00:40.215
- because at that time the gallery owner and patron of artists Karel Babíček helped him.00:00:45.479
- By the Czech standards at that time it was a series of almost monumental photographs,00:00:53.801
- and what was important was the fact that Václav wasn´t alone in the photographs.00:01:00.777
- He needed to include people who were around him,00:01:05.076
- he wanted to work with them.00:01:11.745
- This series became a kind of patron of the exhibition Landscapes,00:01:14.304
- whose title might sound a bit confusing,00:01:22.264
- because it covers mainly the landscape of Václav´s relationships to other people00:01:30.575
- on a personal level but mainly working level,00:01:40.483
- although in his case the overlapping of personal, very private or intimate space00:01:44.838
- with the space of mutual work or the work of Václav with someone else,00:01:53.600
- he´s a bit difficult, so it creates a sort of specific line,00:02:00.899
- which continues until the present.00:02:05.299
- As the key I decided to chose Václav´s strategies,00:02:08.732
- and works with other people or about others,00:02:13.461
- and I selected different works from the mid-1990s to the present.00:02:18.459
- There are drawings and photographs and his photo albums,00:02:30.890
- which hardly anyone knows,00:02:39.022
- but also paintings he did with Martin Helán00:02:40.865
- or Jan Nálevka, when they were his students.00:02:43.970
- There´s also one painting, showing Václav´s annoying habit he had at the Academy of Arts,00:02:49.091
- which was painting over other people´s paintings.00:02:58.265
- We wanted to bring to light things which were not displayed for a long time,00:03:02.642
- so we brought both the collection Czech Landscape and The Collective Exhibition.00:03:07.291
- The architect of the exhibition is again Tomáš Džadoň,00:03:14.949
- who dealt well with certain limitations of the gallery,00:03:18.479
- including the large number of exhibition panels,00:03:22.778
- many of which were hidden in the middle of the space that we wanted to open up.00:03:26.961
- We wanted to lay emphasis on the use and nature of panels,00:03:36.539
- and to find the industrial insides, which are also the insides of the Wannieck Gallery,00:03:43.073
- in the panels, which look of course as a part of the gallery´s furnishing,00:03:53.106
- but in fact they are also only instruments for exhibiting.00:04:03.187
- And so he turned some panels up-side-down,00:04:07.819
- or on their sides and we used them to display individual works.00:04:12.442