Dílna Mikulov - Art symposium
Home > Title page > Dílna > Previous Years > Year 2014 > Theoretician of the Year

Painting Variations
Ondřej Čech

The catalogue in your hands completes and summarizes the 21st Mikulov Art Symposium.
This is a traditional publication which preserves the memories of this great summer event, and it also aims to present all the participating artists to the public through interviews and their brief biographies. It includes a text by the curator, snapshots from the event, photo documentation of the artefacts and their installation at the final exhibition.
Visitors of the exhibition displaying works created at the symposium could see a representative collection of several dozen paintings made in the studios at the Mikulov chateau. The fruit of a month’s work reflected long-term activities of the six authors who continually work with panting. The diversity and individual approach of each of them represents an overview of contemporary painting with roots in the era stretching between the 1970s and 90s. For my own purposes, I divided the authors into three pairs, three imaginary groups without firm borders which freely overlap each other but do show certain similarities. The first such pair consists of Stanislav Diviš and Aldin Popaja. Each of them has gone through a different development and their starting points are also diverse but from a formal point of view, they work in similar ways. Their canvasses contain geometricized surfaces serving as abstracted transcriptions of their content, a variation on a concrete model. Diviš’ latest theme was based on mediaeval and early modern astronomy, the geometrical transcriptions of the laws of space, and the reflection of macro-cosmos in the human micro-cosmos. The geometry of Diviš’ style is not a strict one because it is drawn manually, in a very humane way with possible errors and slight imperfections. The key element is the relation between objects and colours and their possible interpretations. Aldin Popaja works in a similar way. In his latest series, he chooses concrete motifs based on historic tombstones spread around the Balkan countryside of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He places these motifs against various backgrounds expressing for instance the mathematical principles of variation. One of his paintings includes the digits one and zero referring to the binary numeral system which reflects the foundations of all systems and an infinite number of interpretations; that shifts the motifs into the context of history as a field of study and its incessant Sisyphean search for the unspeculative and correct interpretation. But Popaja also demonstrates visual indulgence in a refined and varied colour palette of surfaces and tonal values. Another possible pair could be formed by Petr Veselý and Oldřich Tichý. What I see as a connection between them is the way they depict everyday objects taken away from their natural environment, and set into a different atmosphere, into timelessness only expressed by colour. They both tend to be fascinated by individual impulses, by celebrating the mundane. In the refined simplicity of the motif, they move straightforward to the core of the issue. In Veselý’s work, we observe an old bathtub, a section of architecture. In Tichý’s, it is parts of a barn, mesh, a hammer, a forest in winter, a bird’s nest. Despite their different poetics, visons and temperaments, thein work is similar in certain aspects such as its naturalness and openness, its mundaneness and earthiness. What makes them different is for instance a more pronounced tendency to structuring in Tichý’s work, as opposed to Veselý’s reduced objectivity of the depicted. The third duo consists of Václav Bláha and Jan Pištěk. Within the six authors, it is difficult to find a suitable connotation for the two and I might have put them together because they are absolutely different in their styles and themes. Václav Bláha creates his paintings in individual scheme which he layers and overlaps until he includes everything he wanted in the final picture even though some elements are visually covered by others. What is however characteristic for him is that we always sense a figural composition. In Mikulov, these figures wererampant, falling, tilted and balancing. Jan Pištěk is the exact opposite. Nothing in his latest works resembles a figure. His paintings are veiled in the mystery of creation. They represent a deliberate visual impact which, upon closer inspection, develops its associativity. The only thing they have in common with figures is that they can become their inner expressions, a molecule of innermost feelings. They turn inwards where infinity is the same as out there. Technical assistant, and a Mikulov native Viktorie Prokopová was an indispensable part of the team. She added a relaxed atmosphere to the symposium and was a great help to all of us. The exhibition featured her wooden objects based on image as object by which she attempted a different thematization of painting. “Close Encounters” was the originally motto of the symposium’s curator. I think it was fulfilled! Thank you all, and thank you Mikulov.