Painting as a visual and three-dimensional artefact (Milan Salák)

In the submitted thesis, Petr Dub “focuses on, above all, the formalness of the process of perception, preparation and processing of the picture.” The student thus set himself a difficult task. The “picture” is a frequently treated theme of a number of art and expert studies, and in this respect, the “formalness” is a frequently used expression. As the student mentions at the end of his text, he attempted to break out of at least one social convention. This means the “classical picture” (whereas it would be more precise to mention the “classical, hand-painted suspension picture”). It thus seems obvious that the level of authenticity with which he handled the theme will serve as the essential criterion for assessing Petr Dub’s Bachelor’s thesis.

“Knocking down the conventions” is an unwritten subject matter of the social commitment towards the artist. Under these circumstances, it was clear from the very beginning that Petr Dub would find himself entwined, in many respects, with the work of artists of his own or even previous generations. Even though I am aware that the theoretical part of the Bachelor’s thesis does not provide enough space for presenting or even examining the remotely similar works arising from various circumstances, yet I will dare to make a criticism. I am convinced that if Petr Dub had been forced to define himself (apart from the general formalness of the picture perception) also against the contemporary works and artists who set themselves a similar target, his conceptual move would be more significant. When I mention “defining himself” I do not mean only a list of the works of fellow artists and theoreticians. Each work adds another dimension to the original problem, while also becoming its integral part, thus making it impossible to ignore. Apart from the references to the theoreticians such as Flusser, Johnson, Aumont or Kulka, the thesis centres around the work (with respect to our education and memory-affected perception) of Wassily Kandinsky, Mario Mertz, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Andy Warhol, Martin Kippenberger, as well as Petr Dub’s contemporaries, such as Radek Macke, Jiří Skála, Artamonov and Klyuykov, Daniela Baráčková, or Petr’s older fellow student from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Linda Latenbergová… and I have only mentioned those whose names have come to my mind at the moment. They represent a certain upper layer of thoughts bundled up to the core of the central theme presented by the thesis writer.

In my written report, I have not touched the practical part of Petr Dub’s Bachelor’s thesis yet. I did this deliberately owing to the character of the project. In my view, it would be rather inadequate to present the artefact (however seemingly renouncing the well-established and thus formal perception convention) as the key contribution of the thesis. In the context of contemporary art, the artefact is a reference to the author’s message or its bearer. Under these circumstances, the form becomes its language. On condition that I am supposed to reflect the language that Petr Dub uses to speak to us in his Bachelor’s thesis, I am obliged to maintain that it is comprehensible and contemporary. One may object that the comprehensibility is contradictory to the above-mentioned “authenticity”, on the basis of which Petr Dub’s thesis should be assessed. Yet for many reasons, the very claim of authenticity is a convention itself…

To conclude this deliberation, one may continue with any part of the song entitled “How the dog ate a white pudding”, whose every new verse metaphorically resembles utopian efforts of all of us to break out of the existing clichés and “to be ourselves”. Despite the mentioned objections, I do consider Petr Dub’s Bachelor’s thesis as highly surpassing the requirements imposed on this format of the artistic project, and I fully recommend that it is assessed on a high level, i.e. with grade A.

Picture as a visual and spatial artefact, 
Reader’s report of the Bachelor’s thesis (Milan Salák, 2007)