Beware of women in art galleries (Tomáš Pospiszyl)

Mostly, you may encounter women of certain age sitting in art galleries. Their task is not to be seen, while carefully watching the exhibits at the same time.

The woman custodian is also a theme of Petr Dub’s exhibition opened yesterday. The exhibition represents the sixth episode in the Start Up cycle, in which the Gallery of the Capital City of Prague presents the work of young artists in the House at the Gold Ring. The exhibition area is located on the ground floor, and compared to other exhibitions, it offers free entrance, which means and ideal and painless opportunity how to quickly discover what is happening on the young scene while passing through the centre.
Objects with a secret

Petr Dub (* 1976) works in Brno and those familiar with his creation may be surprised the new installation. In the past, the graduate of the Faculty of Fine Arts of Brno University of Technology focused on abstract paintings, in particular. He exhibited loose and variously creased canvases or he stretched them onto frames made of irregular and differently cut laths. He also started to stretch canvases on different objects found. His painting thus became objects hiding a secret under their surface. This type of paintings has won him international success. Last year, he was among the finalists of the international Sovereign European Art Prize in the Barbican Centre in London. This year, Petr Dub has become one of the finalists of the Essl Art Award.
Some time ago, though, Petr Dub started experimenting with the language that he discovered when developing abstract painting, yet using it as a very realistic means of expression: using canvases of different colours, he squeezes out textile reliefs on the walls, fixing them with nails and depicting real objects or figures with as much as photographic precision. This is also the case of the Woman Custodian. What we see at first sight in the art gallery is her unattractive figure created with the help of this rag technique. Yet we cannot approach her directly, as nearly all her area is filled with a spider web made of fibre stemming from a fishing line.

Grotesque custodian

The fibres may symbolise security lines of force through which the woman custodian supervises the audience movement or an abstract structure in contrast with a caricature-like figure of the woman custodian. The artist refers to the art gallery operation, thus stepping from abstraction up to nearly an illustrative position. This becomes even more obvious to those who associate the quotation of philosopher Jean Baudrillard with the look of the grotesque woman custodian. In fact, the grandma is a portrait of Baudrillard! This postmodern thinker became famous for the idea that we live in the media world in which it is becoming more and more difficult to recognise what is real and what is a mere illusion. It seems here as if the philosopher was checking whether his appearance is sufficiently confusing. However for those who do not know what the philosopher looks like, the exhibition remains an impressive spectacle the key to which they find difficult to find.

Beware of women in art galleries (Tomáš Pospiszyl, Lidové noviny, Culture, pp. 11, 28.4.2011)