Libary of Patterns (Milan Mikuláštík)

The work of both Petr Dub and Alžběta Říhová develops the aesthetics of representatives of American minimalism and European concrete art in a distinctive way. Both Peter and Alžbětová share conceptual thinking about the image, working with geometry, monochromy, as well as multiplication, seriality, variability, and modularity. The painting as a medium serves as a starting point, which in Petr Dub and Alžběta Říhová’s interpretation expands into space, i.e. being at the same time a painting, an object, and a variable spatial installation. Surface treatment also plays an important role, providing both artists with an opportunity to experiment with various, often spectacularly effective materials.

Petr Dub presents a series of large abstract paintings in an unusual ring format: a toroid. The paintings are created through a complicated process in which Petr Dub first places and fixes acrylic or plaster casts of impasto strokes on the canvas. The system works like a kit with various repeating components or patterns from which the artist deliberately assembles a seemingly expressive abstract composition. The resulting assemblage is used to make a silicone mould which then serves to produce identical concrete casts polychromed by the artist. This results in a series of variations of an identical image, yet coloured differently. In some of the paintings, the individual relief brush marks are distinguished and carefully coloured, while in others a monochrome treatment is chosen to give the sculptural effect of the artist’s strokes. Exhibiting in series is important for these works, since only by careful comparison with each other can one detect the shabbiness of the “expressive paintings”, which are in fact rationally constructed sculptures. “There is nothing real in art theory. Everything is distant. Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy!” explains Petr Dub his creative attitude.

The source of inspiration for Alžběta Říhová’s work is the author’s interest in historical architecture and her experience with the restoration craft. At first glance, Alžbeta’s geometric compositions look like cut-outs from the façades of cubist, art-deco or functionalist buildings. The artist works with repetitive geometric patterns, different surface roughness, and colour of materials. Alžběta’s relief paintings feature various plasters and cements, imitation of polished stone, or even a veristic imitation of ceramic tiles. As in the work of Petr Dub, there is a system of the construction set, yet it is applied more in the actual gallery presentation of the paintings, which Alžběta Říhová assembles into sprawling spatial installations using the walls and floors of the exhibition space. “An important moment in my work is when I can work with the traditional format of a painting in a non-traditional way, both in its surface treatment and in its installation,” says Alžběta Říhová about her work.

The hybrid non-paintings by Petr Dub and Alžběta Říhová offer a rich source of meanings, significations, quotations, and references to the history of art and architecture, while at the same time offering the viewer a gently ironic reflection on the medium of the painting itself.

Milan Mikuláštík, the curator of the Library of Patterns exhibition, has taken an unconventional approach and replaced the usual curatorial text with a pictorial essay. A slide show of images is projected on the screen at the entrance to the exhibition, the selection and composition of which functions as a reference and interpretive framework for the exhibition. The curator does not comment on the exhibition with text, but with images.