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In the first half of the 1990’s one could hardly find a contemporary art exhibition in Prague without a spatial installation.
In defiance of the stock three-dimensional installations I decided to follow the path of a painterly installation, where the viewers move within the pictorial surface and by their movements in the pigment material create relief structures with their shoes. I poured one hundred kilograms of shining red pigment across the gallery floor, which demarcated the installation’s format. The margins of the area were emphasized by fragments of geometric shapes which seemed to be cut through by the wall and to continue in its mass. Two similar paintings were hung on the gallery walls. The material presence of the installation overshadowed the imagery of the paintings to such a degree that most visitors did not even notice them. The installation spawned additional, unintended effects. Coloured foot-tracks fanned out of the gallery to the nearby restaurants and people with red soles sitting opposite in the metro smiled at one another. Before this, I had not realised at all how often things tend to drop down to the floor.
Review:Petr Rezek, The World as an Ornament or Some Delectation, 1994
The decorative is not parasitic on the world, it is only through the decorative that the world reaches its fulfilment, it is only the decorative that brings glory and splendour – so the advocate of the decorative says. We have to reject this idea: An ornament would like to magnify splendour, but by itself it is not splendour. And the other side immediately replies: Is the decorated not promoted by the fact of being so, were the Muses not appointed to glorify the world by establishing rhythm and order in general for this purpose? And then, there is only one possibility left: to carry out a thought experiment.
A meander could be prolonged so as to encircle the whole world. And why should that be done only once? And could the promoted not be promoted again, could we not decorate even the decorative and everything there is? – This would be something to aim at if our lifespan were wide enough. For why doesn’t he, who decorates the world with his own “I woz here”, not write during his journey to the castle on every milestone? He does not do so because he would never get to the castle. So – lo and behold: not everything is worth decorating and even decoration has its “priorities”. We are simply not immortal and even supposing we were, we could hardly prevent someone else erasing our hieroglyph or our signature on a bench.
Or, we would have to be omnipresent as well. But in spite of this all, let us try to imagine such a world, covered by the decorative. Then, as new and new layers of the decorative are created, the decorative, instead of elevating the decorated, will start to make itself superior, to behave as being superior. But the more rights the decorative has, the less of the decorated there is. Eventually, we are left with an ornament instead of the world. The world has become an ornament; in other words, the world has been replaced by an ornament.
The painting titled “Margins” keeps hold of the last moment, just before the diminution of the old world, when some last little place is as yet unconquered by the decorative. You may say that it is already too late, nothing more is needed but to take this painting off the wall to find there, on the wall (and perhaps on the other side of the canvas, too) – what else – an ornament. No, it is still not too late, for we see ourselves that there is still one last place in the world left, where there is no ornament. But we may have to say that this place does not belong to our world – that it belongs to “another” world. But mind you: we have to defend the painting and to ensure that it is not occupied by the decorative, which spreads through the whole world. If the painting itself, which we supposed to come from another world, should contain moving and expanding ornament, then we are lost. Then we will witness the last place being vanquished by the realm of the decorative, the “Margins” are to be concerned with an image – a document – the reality of the decay of the old world, which is no more able to save anything, and instead of it a new world will arise, which will at the very moment reach its climax, for there will be nothing without an ornament. But what will be the entity that has the ornament? Do we not witness rather a genesis of world of the decorative, of a world, which is an ornament? But at the time I write these lines, the image is still not finished, there is the last place left empty.
Yet, new fighters are coming – the greatest masters. They are to create a New ornament. The last lacuna, the place not yet filled with an ornament, is to become a basis for a new ornament. This one will demand its rights, too. It will rave about truth and it will erase the old ornaments to highlight the truth and beauty of the world. Take off masks and make-up, put away any disguise and put away the old ornament as well, reveal the beauty of being simple! – those will be the tenets of Kvíčala’s heirs. The goal shall be a new ornament – however, only if it is not possible to glorify and promote without an ornament.
This new ornament is not apparent. And this fact constitutes both its magnitude and poverty.