A Survivor’s Diary (Ondřej Chrobák)

Petr Dub is a (post) conceptual artist. He systematically examines the medium of hanging painting, or rather the current position of painting. Dub’s paintings are indeed indisputable results of manual, and let us add, often very challenging and sophisticated activity, yet the used verb “examine” is not a meaningless synonym for “painting” in his artistic practice. It primarily refers to the conscious mental activity that precedes the actual process of painting. Petr Dub is also the author of one of the few, if not the only Czech written theoretical study, which reflects the local post-conceptual painting in the context of the current discourse of art. The book, published under the title Selected Post-conceptual Approaches in the Contemporary Czech Painting, was the output of his PhD. studies at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Brno. Studying in Petr Kvíčala and Milan Houser‘s studio in Brno as well as a one-year internship at the Prague Academy of Arts Architecture & Design of Jiří David and Milan Salák were not in Dub’s case only a formal fulfilling of duties. Petr Dub managed, in confrontation with outstanding, but artistically and humanly different personalities, distill for himself a personal lesson, which forms a compact foundation of his current artistic trajectory. In gastronomy, which was actually the artist’s first career choice, it would be an analogy to the format of “fusion cuisine” combining the strong background of Brno conceptualism and the heritage of Prague postmodernism.

The title of the exhibition, A Survivor’s Diary, offers as one of the ways to read it, a commentary on the current situation. As the Survivor, for the reading subject is kept secret, we may appoint the Painting. The conceptual thinking and painting are in local stereotypes considered to be antagonistic directions. The defenders of paintings blame the conceptual approach not only for “incomprehensibility” of contemporary art, but also from the direct participation in the proclamation of the “end of painting”, which was mainly understood as an attempt to destroy the competition. In 1997 in Prague’s Rudolfinum Gallery there took place a program exhibition focused on the current situation of painting called The last painting. Post-apocalyptic jargon is, since than, a mandatory part of the rhetorical arsenal used to reflect the current status of painting. For Petr Dub, who exists on the tectonic breaking point of two irreconcilable worlds, similar references make flirtatious game. He winks to both sides, but he has already decided to remain single. He acts similarly in his artistic practice. He does not leave the field of traditional hanging painting on purpose. At the same time, however, he applies the strategies that in the history of at least the last fifty years, gradually led to its questioning and rejection. Sci-fi literature works with the possibility of time travel, the intervention in history could change, or rather reverse the present danger. Petr Dub does not seek a revision of history. He knows too much for that. It seems that he rather tries to use the potential that remained fallow in the past on the altar of rapid, avantgarde method. Hybrid status, when an art work contains also the genetic code of its own end and (re) birth represents for us, the survivors, one of the relevant reasons to continue to seriously deal with art.

(Press Relase, Ondřej Chrobák)