Krokus Gallery presents the solo show of painter Rastislav Podoba entitled Artificial Flowers.
For as long as nearly two decades, Rastislav Podoba has been faithful to the good old, slow art of eye and hand, which serve as the means for his original imagination. His presence in the local scene is confident and is an example of a continual development of the artist programme which balances on the edge of reality and abstraction. The style of his painting follows a long tradition of mimetic representation, brings realism up-to-date and refers to the expressive, poetic and symbolic expressional connection with the modernism.
Podoba belongs to the painters who follow both the inner, psychological/mental articulation of an image and a transcendental way of thinking which strives for the visualisation of the perception itself and its meaning in the consciousness. A final painting, despite having been inspired by a particular, real phenomenon, remains in obscurity as something which is not primarily given. It becomes a record of an inner process of perceiving the reality, a conscious retrieval of seeing. Rastislav Podoba's paintings are vague, fuzzy and immersed in the atmosphere of secret decipherable only up to a certain extent. They do not try to point out the outward nature of the captured objects, rather they are capable of recording and expressing mentally more complicated inner processes of human perception. A watchful viewer of Podoba's paintings may observe a specific, disconcerting tension which the artist accomplishes by placing his motif in a non-narrative and atemporal way of representation. They are characterised by obscurity of their historical knowledge, despite the ostensible simplicity of certain motifs.
The collection of large canvases presented at the current exhibition in the Krokus Gallery under the title Artificial Flowers brings an imaginary interpretation of various vegetal motifs depicted in an odd ambiance of unspecific surroundings. We may recognise various types of separately growing plants and trees emerging from the dark. The painter's view follows the nooks and crannies of green lush gardens and grotesquely transformed park compositions unfolded against the backdrop of historical architecture. Large canvases are complemented by more subtle formats showing still lifes of cut live or artificial flowers. The classical genre classification according to the codification with its roots in the ancient history of the 17th century would divide the presented paintings into landscapes and still lifes. The hierarchy of genres established by the French Royal Academy was derived from a human being as a measure of all things. In this hierarchy, landscape and still life held the lowest ranks, as they did not involve any human figure, which is precisely what rarely appears in the rest of Rastislav Podoba's paintings. If it does, the author captures it in the environment of industrially affected landscape only inconspicuously in form of a cluster of more distinct colourful tiny blurs (Second Land, 2015). The place of a human is substituted by an individual, mysterious figure of a tree or a plant composed – “portrayed” – as a whole in the main axis of the landscape scene. Still lifes were to celebrate the “material” and joy of objects surrounding humans or to serve as a reminder of he ephemerality of these joys as well as shortness of human life. It seems as if the artificial, “dead” bouquets in the Rastislav Podoba's still lifes referred to the proverbial memento mori, yet in comparison with pathos of the past centuries they are painted with an expressive lightness of a connoisseur of visual glossary of history of modernism. Landscape is a central topic for many contemporary artists. In times of technological and cultural changes, a need for description of landscape and definition of our relationship with the nature is again coming back to understand our “place on Earth”. Such an enlivened interest in the topic is rising on the background of a discussion around so-called “anthropocene” – a period when people and their industrial activity leading to rapid changes of the environment have had a major impact on the earth's ecosystem accompanied by threats of ecological disasters and destructive apocalyptic visions.
The conception of motifs of the pictures and their order at the exhibition Artificial Flowers tackle a contemporary topic of confrontational clashes of nature and civilisation with a clear value inclination towards the first one. The motifs of pictures and the way of their representation critically approach the consequences of industrial production and landscape exploitation through their retro-modernist inclination towards the ideological subversion of hierarchical structures of representation of historical genres. The current dominant position of a human being as the creator of the main geological force on earth retires in favour of large-sized imaginations and in favour of hypothetically healing, but also urgent painter's meditations, persistently depicting the non/exhaustible power of nature.
Zuzana L. Majlingová, curator of the exhibition
Rastislav Podoba (*1975 in Bánovce nad Bebravou, SK), he studied at the Jozef Vydra School of Applied Arts in Bratislava. In 1996–2002 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava at the studios of Vladimír Popovič and Rudolf Sikora. He is a multiple finalist of the VÚB Foundation Prize for Painting; in 2008 he was awarded the International Association of Art Prize at the VI. International Biennial of Drawing in Pilsen, and in 2009, he was awarded the Martin Benka Prize. Currently he is a head of the Open Studio of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Banská Bystrica (SK).
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