Avoid Falling for Nietzsche. Avoid Falling for Nothing. (Jan Kudrna)

In the first plan, as it is currently said – after a cursory scan of Petr Dub’s series from the last two years – a number of perceivers may think that he is trying to break the paradigm of the circle. In the author’s case, it would not be the first, nor the last time we will be assured of his similar attempts. But is it really the case? In offering a revision of concepts, shall we begin with an enumeration of facts, or a (re)definition of what is truly an unquestionable artistic fact? A painting that has become a relief, or, conversely, a sculptural relief that becomes a painting because of its formal execution? The formal shape of Petr Dub’s current works offers a similarly simple impression. The final perception is enhanced on a scale from monochrome to spectacular colour, by the breaking up of rectangular form and programmatic seriality. Are messages or perceptions important to the artist? A clear conceptual or formal definition, in a controlled process, bound into an expected shape? Yet ambiguity can be unsettling. The absurdity of the given, fractured by banal means at the point where our certainties become uncertainties, is a pure masterpiece within the Palindrome: Repetitive Paintings series.

In the subsequent series, a similar approach is enriched with a cultural framework. The author uses a literary retelling of Christopher Nolan’s film Tenet, grafted onto a palindrome (a symmetrical expression that reads from right to left or left to right, both having the same meaning), characterising the contemporary global world. Visually, however, we may be interested in the circle again. A circle in which the original content is lost, the physical body and mass of the painting concentrated in the periphery of the shape itself. The visibly supporting surface of a conventional hanging painting is essentially gone. The interior of the painting is absent, but the essence of the global (omni)presence, the substance of the form, carries the content of the work ever further to the edge of certainty, expectation and provocation. The audacity, or better said – the provoking certainty – is brought to the point of “0” or “360”. Fatally, across the spectrum. We know neither the beginning nor the end of the circle.

What are our certainties in our fluid times? In a time when information is not often believed, let alone trusted. In his series Repetitive Paintings: Everything is a Copy of a Copy of a Copy, Peter Dub does not seek to establish a factual levelling. Let alone the balance of the universe. At least as far as art is concerned. The imprisonment of the circle after tracing the obligatory circle completes the process of the copy at most. A copy which becomes a copy itself in order to repeat the circle of events within an unknown programme. The speed of the process is variable; it has different effects on the influence of the final result, and its intensity may vary at both poles of the scale. Considerable expectation from the viewer. The circles are darker, accentuated by sparing colour contrasts and pigments. The same matrix in different backdrops accumulates the essence of multiplication. With a certain and object dignity, but which can very easily, at any moment of the experiment, tip over into a sense of elusive confusion.
The concentrated cycle Palindrom: PAIN & GAIN. The reliefs are based on fragments of stories and bodies of real black female bodybuilders. A cast (un)painting atomising the body’s preconceived image into positions of concentrated muscular masses. Visually, the cycle resembles a prefabricated formation which is on the one hand personally anonymous, and on the other, a concrete clearly defined drawing of relief shapes. The intrinsic value of this series lies in the “intensity of reflection” related to the very essence of what is depicted. Similarly to female bodybuilders, relating to the essence of the liminal pole of the stylisation of one’s own body and a specific ideal of beauty.
The dialectical key to the exhibition may be found in a replica of one of the author’s diary sentences accompanying the exhibition: “Avoid Falling for Nietzsche. Avoid Falling for Nothing”. The reference to Nietzsche’s work through the contemporary lens of a hypertrophied age is in many ways similar to the perception (understanding) of extreme bodybuilding. How easy is it today to fall for Nietzsche, ideals, extremes and nihilism at the same time? A strict dogmatist of penetrating insight, denying God and believing in willpower leading to the Übermensch. Everything and nothingness in one package. A culture of extreme building of one’s own body, mind and artistic legacy. Muscles, testosterone, oil and figures.
The intensity of the reflection of all the imaginary worlds offered by Peter Dub to us is similar to one another. Or even identical? Our knowledge, identities and policies are largely based on copying, learning copies and copies of copies. On series and repetition. On quotations and references. On excerpts of what we want to hear and visuals we are willing to accept as our own. At the same time, on the superficiality that we aspire to intellectually despise, while at the same moment, we are ritually attracted to it. The intensity of the reflection is indeed identical. The identity and authenticity of our world is determined by the degree of commitment/surrender to this or that segment or by the world we share together. This means the cultures, areas of thought, sport, or anything else. Avoid falling for Nietsche. Avoid falling for nothing seems to be one of the few ways to maintain at least a minimal room to manoeuvre in the sphere of the personal and the shared at the same time. The best of the worst solutions. But even that requires other attributes, skills, planets or entire universes. “Like Jupiter WGF about: I care about the universe about as much as the universe cares about Mercury.”