Petr Dub’s pictures emerge on the borders of material and idea conditions, once considered to be essential over a long period of time. Similarly to many other artists, it is the material which he is working with that is allowed to speak at first. His pictures and painting installations do not lack the capacity to bewitch, yet seemingly, he often disappears as their author. He works with found objects and industrial modes of production. The process of creation includes the laws of nature and coincidence. From the aesthetic point of view, he tends to be modest and restrained, while his artistic intentions do not become obvious until discovering various errors and deviations of the common painting. Those are, nevertheless, carefully planned, verified experimentally and realised with a great deal of determination in his effort.
Petr Dub’s work manages to join visual impressiveness and a strong conceptual basis thematising the limits of painter’s expression. The Transformers, a groundbreaking cycle of Petr Dub’s paintings, addresses the viewer not only through the paint spread on the canvas but mainly through irregular interventions to the rectangular shape of the frame. The painting becomes a sort of an embossed object on the wall, referring to the hidden technical structure of the painting. The painting’s supporting apparatus is thus elevated to a means of expression.
At the same time,the Transformers Cycle showcases extraordinary tension between two-dimensionality and three-dimensionality. In essence, individuals works are mere sculptures wrapped in canvas. The painting’s mat functions, in this case, as an element which instead of being used for the author’s message, in fact covers the appearance of the exhibited object. Similar to drapery, however, the object wrapped in cloth has the power to show the general essence better than when the viewer is distracted by its commonly visible form.
It is the element of “recycling” that is an important feature of Petr Dub’s “painting”: his works emerge from various cuttings and waste materials, being a by-product of artistic activity. The works made of unstrained colour canvas may also be perceived as a postproduction attempt to discover the second life of paintings. Some of them feature traces of having been drawn into frames. Nevertheless, such form has only been temporary, as if the author wanted to prove that the way through which the painting was materially created was not at all important but that what mattered most it is the way the artist subsequently treated it. At other times, just as in case of the Milka installation, the work features non-transferrable traces of being created on the site of installation, therefore allowing Petr Dub to relativise his previous direction.
It is the modesty and exploring the essence of artistic means of expression that moves Petr Dub seemingly closer to the artists of the period of high modernism or minimalism. However, he dissociates himself from minimalism through the very form of presentation, being also obvious from the documentation in this catalogue. At times, he take photographs of his paintings in the studio, preferably contaminating their formal purity with coincidental objects and mess of a workplace, in which the distinction between the art and non-art often becomes barely perceptible. He does not head towards the unattainable ideal of shape perfection. From the perspective of their expression, non-monumental, seemingly ad hoc created structures bear a marked stamp of craftwork. The craftsmanship associated with his works does not lie in imitating the surrounding worlds using colours, but in complicated tightening of the canvas on an irregular support or directly on the wall.
Petr Dub does not leave his works without content, either. In particular, his installations abandon the modernist line, searching for inspiration in the contemporary visual culture. Rather than with minimalism, his work is associated with the current attempts to grasp the technique of collage in a new way. The painting environment of Disneyfication, Moonwalk, and others functions as spatial and meaning assemblages, mixing playfully not only shapes and colours but also references to popular culture, references to spiritual values, or the tradition of high modernism mentioned above. Through juxtaposing various materials and seemingly unrelated meanings, Petr Dub remixes the world around himself, thus providing testimony of its complexity.
Unframed & Reframed (Tomáš Pospiszyl, 2010)
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