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While thinking about the exhibition for the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, I arranged with the gallerist Leoš Válka that I would create a kind of pictorial intervention into the gallery space.
I deliberately do not say a mural, because I do not see murals as an artefact suitable for exhibiting. Their purpose is, in my rendition, rather a scene setting. In the great architecture of the DOX by Ivan Kroupa, the ramp conceived as a bridge between the exhibition space and the café seemed a suitable place for creating of a kind of decompression chamber. Wide ornamental red stripes on the walls created a distinctive design of the otherwise ignored space, putting the ramp into the spotlight and therefore leaving the exhibition space less spectacular and more intimate. Moreover, the narrow space with high walls was perfect for my earlier intention to use the stripes of the zigzag ornament, which I invented in 2002. The visitors here get to a close proximity to the wall with the ornament. Thus they, without being instructed, have a possibility to view the ornament from the side. They perceive the zigzag stripes, which from the front view are not obvious at first. During the preparations I discovered a variant of the original design. So I used both options on the opposite walls of the corridor. Later I came to yet another solution, in which the two views differ most radically. In 2014, this ornament became the basis for an exhibition at the White Gallery in Osík.
reviews, Tomáš Pospiszyl:
For the audience following the work of Petra Kvíčala over a longer time, it is certainly not a surprise that even in the paintings from the years 2008–2011 he continues the exploration of linear ornaments, or more generally, the methods of logical structuring of the picture plane with strong visual effects. What makes these new paintings different from the previous ones? Compared to the paintings in which Kvíčala emphasised his subjective brushwork, the new ones are affected by the use of a new technique: when drawing lines or filling in the colour surfaces, he does not rely on his hand, but he works with cover bands, from which he makes templates. In this manner not only does the process of painting simplify, but this aid has an influence on the overall character of the painting. The pictures are more accurate, seemingly “digitised” into clearly defined surfaces and lines with sharp edges. The surface of the painting no longer evokes folk embroidery, but rather modern architecture or computer graphics, which are governed by a mathematically expressible algorithm. The viewer usually fails to reveal this particular order, but is aware of its presence.
Sometimes Kvíčala’s first impulse is an effort to slightly move the already used compositional order into a new form, which, however, has a radical effect on the perception of the picture. In the Wide Stripes – Coded Ornaments the artist worked with stripes of the same width of colour “coded” lines and white spaces between them. The larger width of the colour lines caused that, unlike in the previous series, we do not perceive them as lines, but rather as colour rectangles. In the series Analog Digital he manually “digitised” line ornaments. Elsewhere, by contrast, he works with extremely thin lines, whose effect is fundamentally different, if we view the painting from a distance or close proximity.
Petr Kvíčala’s paintings demonstrate how the world looks when viewed through the matrix of order. Each of his painting begins by defining the compositional principle, determining the rhythm in which to paint. Then the logic of the chosen artistic method starts developing, the rule is brought to consequences, and the painter observes what visual consequences his initial reasoning has. In the beginning there is an abstract rule, in the end a particular picture; in the language of mathematics, a documentation of the chosen function. The painter does not act here as the omnipotent author who has the whole process under control in all the details. He is rather a partner to the regularities chosen by him, he tries to show the consequences of painting. Yet, there is still much that is in the hands of the artist. The chromaticity, size and section of the painting, which may continue in its rhythm beyond its borders. The pictures have no centre, but they form a network, we find in it both horizontal and vertical lines intertwining in a grid. Their quality lies in the tension between the rational order and visual effect, which the paintings can interconnect in themselves.
Petr Kvíčala belongs to quite a few Czech artists who are engaged in projects that could in the traditional terminology be called interventions in architecture. He designs murals for specific spaces, designs interior colour solutions, creates furniture. Nevertheless, in the Czech environment similar tasks are perceived as inferior, as too associated with a housing that is too specific, function. But most similar projects in Kvíčala’s architecture work with the exact same principles that he develops in his “free” painting. Between a hanging picture and a mural he sees no fundamental conceptual difference, perhaps only that one that a mural is simultaneously a challenge to integrate in the work also the given space conditions, which a similar task brings. From the foreign artists he perhaps reminds me in his approach only the American artist Jim Isermann, moving freely between painting, architecture, and furniture making, thoughtfully exploring the fluidity of free and applied art.
An example of Kvíčala’s work that arises from and uses a specific space and is at the same time a development of the principles of free painting is the Zig Zag Corridor. It is based on a series of hanging pictures produced since 2003. The basis is a multiplied, at right angles broken line. The surface formed by this ornament can be read in two ways. Viewed from the front, we see rectangular broken lines, when viewed from the side, the lines at a certain angle connect into surfaces and create vertical zigzag “roads”. This principle was adapted by Kvíčala also for the 22 meter long, rising ramp of the DOX centre. Kvíčala worked with a line of a width of 10 centimetres, the module of the broken line is 100 centimetres, for the painting about 10 litres of Primalex was used. Maybe we can talk about a kind of locally specific Op Art. The work creates a complex environment, which at first glance captivates us by its spectacular design, which may make us dizzy. But compared to Op artists, Kvíčala does not work with spatial illusion, his paintings are consistently a surface which never optically knobs or bends. At the DOX though, his painterly intervention changed not only the character of the architecture, but depending on the position and movement of the viewer, the painting itself dynamically changes. Something else we see from the side, when the individual meandering lines assemble into large zigzag strips. Something else from the top of the ramp, where the painting can be seen from the front as composed broken lines. One is contained in the other, depending on our position in relation to the painting. It is a mural that has no content, no theme, no other meaning except what is supposed to be perceived. And this function of it is revealed only during its observation.