Big ambition (Jiří Ptáček)

This is an exhibition of three: Petr Dub and Ondřej Kotrč, both artists, and Jiří Ptáček, a curator. All of them contributed with their own work. Otherwise, their co-operation would not make sense. As for the exhibition, the “manuscript” of the curator does not go beyond this text. Petr Dub and Ondřej Kotrč are represented by their artefacts. Yet, it is the mutual influence that led to the emergence and the form of the exhibition. It is thus apt to reiterate that this is the exhibition of three, while attempting to uncover the background of a small exhibition with big ambitions.

Petr Dub and Ondřej Kotrč joined Jiří Ptáček in order to find, together, an appropriate solution to their exhibition. What needed to be explored is the artistic potential lying behind personal liking between both artists, while discovering the way to apply it in the “Půda” Gallery. Paradoxical as it may be, the solution was never far fetched. Both artists find themselves on the border of painting and an object, or surface and three dimensions. At least recently, both of them have been drifting round the well-explored terrain of minimalism, searching for hybrid reformulations of its canon. Petr Dub arrives at his spatial assemblages via unusual combinations of constitutive elements of painting artefacts, such as a bottom frame, format, canvas stretching, brushstroke, suspension, etc. His attention has been attracted by the material essence of the artefact, means of artistic expression, as well as the process aspects of creation, reflected in the artefact’s form. Petr Dub’s domain does not lie in the individual work of art itself, but rather their constellations, showcasing not only the relations between the works of art, but also the manner of approaching the venue of their realisation. It seems as if he was attempting to disintegrate all these aspects into small particles so as to be able to use them in a way subverting the codified forms of painting, while making our approach to them uncertain. Yet even Petr Dub’s work demonstrates certain regularities. The most important one seems to be the splendour of his gestures, combined with inconspicuous intervention. He has been using metallic and signal colours, not withdrawing a pop showiness even in the smallest and most ephemeral installations.

Unlike Petr Dub, whose work is gradually reaching the character of permanent testing of a widely established range of opportunities, Ondřej Kotrč’s duffels serve as the first more systematic example of working with a three-dimensional object. Large inflatable sacks claim the surrounding space, with their volumes having the tendency to expand. They appear monumental, which Ondřej Kotrč (in fact similarly to Petr Dub) emphasises with a distinctive colour rendition of their surface areas. The surfaces of Ondřej Kotrč’s “duvets” serve as his canvas which may benefit from its roundedness, fluffiness or transparency. Or he can emphasise their object character of a large piece of air.

The showiness of the first and the monumentality of the second author have provided a guideline for a specific exhibition solution in the attic art gallery. There is always a price to pay for its specific architectural form. Considerations about the Big Ambitions (the curator even suggested the title of Exaggerated Ambitions, which the authors successfully forgot or suppressed) concerned the possibility to overcome the spatial determinations and stand “somehow above them”. The curator felt like, above all, a challenger presenting the flamboyancy and monumentality as a postulate of mutual dialogue, while taking the opportunity to create, upon their expansion, a distance both from the gallery space and his own inclinations. The effect of the intention to “exaggerate it” could be a self-ironic jeer over what is perceived as nutritious flesh of thinking of both authors, as well as a critical reflection of the artefact’s function. The exhibition title, Big Ambitions, expresses a note of irony of this challenge, which had to be nevertheless developed by both authors reflecting their own perspectives, taking into account their own strategies. I do believe that the challenger’s role is not to assess the result. Yet, having taken on the curator’s role, I found satisfying that we ended up in an environment where questions and experiments outnumbered the amount of matters of fact and certainties.

Big Ambitions (Jiří Ptáček, 2010)