26.02.2020 - 25.07.2020
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Opening: 26. 2. 2020 at 7pm
Curator: Miroslav Ambroz
In my past lives, I was a hunter and a gatherer. I would always start my everyday routine
with decorating tools, weapons and creating musical instruments for myself.
1) Even though you were considered as the creator of spatial objects, in this exhibition your major emphasis is on paintings. What was the impulse?
The new atelier, where for the first time in my life, is light, space and warmth, this helped me to finally start painting. An eternity of horizons was open in front of me, together with two big travels to Columbia and Australia, I understand this happy season as staying on an abandoned island, therefore the name "Two years’ vacation".
2) In 2004 you painted large format canvases "Roads of swifts" and "Mother Earth". In the sametime frame you also painted "Chaple of Karlin", and even before that, "Envelopes" were created, therefore in your own way you are continuing with something that was created long before?
Of course, I was already painting in the '70s during my studies. Back then I inherited very rare pigments from prof. Slánský, which I am using presently. The first time I used them was during my exhibition in Rudolfinum, when there was a need to paint something great for "Silent Hall" and a figure of the central deity arose, which is appearing in my works in different varieties. Connection with the material was always important for me. The type of work on the ground on the non-gesso canvas, together with water diluted pigments and acrylate bonds demanded this physical contact. Even in some places on the paintings, there are my footprints.
A wall painting "Chaple of Karlin" was in somewhat a cleansing exhibition after the floods in 2002, and according to an agreement I had to turn it white. The oldest envelopes date back to 1986. The style of their decoration is connected with the style of "Third rococo" and that epoch is accumulated in my works. In the '90s I created multiple large format envelopes, which I perceived as the object/pictures having multiple-meanings and it opened an inexhaustible line packed into certain cushions, similar to guitars. This is related to my favourite non-standard formats (ovals) and adjusting large canvasses "free" without the stretcher bar.
3) What was most interesting thing about Australia?
First of all never ending space and starry skies. Five weeks, every evening by the fire in the desert. Furthermore, colours and rock paintings as old as 60 000 years. This was the first time I have seen baobabs and eucalypti that were 800 years old, which existed way before the arrival of whites... breathtaking scenery. I brought back a lot of collected materials and natural clay, with which I am painting. Australians have a "story" for each god, they are mostly cautionary stories, which have helped to keep the tribes viable. It appears to me as there are various imaginary divinities, however, they were born from the transcultural backdrop. Something interesting is that the rock paintings and figures on it are very similar all around the world, but I am not the type who would study these things in much detail. On the other hand, I deliberately keep certain blindness, to be astonished, and I would recommend this to consumers. Those who ask too much will learn too much.
4) Some rusty images look a bit apocalyptic, did it have any specific impulse?
"Rusty images" are painted by some rusty mud from a forested swamp in West Czech. In fact, they are ferric nano-shells of microorganisms. I discovered this beautiful colour in the '70s, which came back to me now, to extract it artistically. Thematically, they partly follow the cycle of thermo-drawings "Landscapes from Timelessness" or the cycle of graphics "Giants", where the power of nature is personified into supernatural beings. People desire to witness a miracle or other paranormal acts, and we have this advantage that we can also paint them. Also, people are drawn to the aesthetic of natural disasters and the theatre of extinction. Towards the end however, the road took me elsewhere.
5) When you were in Columbia, did you try yagé -the most renowned shamanic hallucinogen?
I don’t need to check what I suspect. I don't need to meet God. I don't want to upset him. He
could stop passing me.
The interview led Miroslav Ambroz
For the exhibition Anamorphosis, that we have prepared with Ondřej for the gallery Horní konírna, he also produced an icy object. This large chunk of ice formed a huge color map on the floor that could have never been properly cleaned from the gallery floor. So a fragment of Ondřej´s work became a part of other installations throughout the next two seasons.
Ondřej says, that he tries not to repeat himself in his work. And that it is important to him that his work is fun. I think this is the right approach. The paintings he created for Fait Gallery PREVIEW represent a whole new set. To create these pieces he mixes three different ingredients here. They are charcoal, which has been known to mankind as long as fire. The paper, which was discovered in China five thousand years ago. And neon light, known since 1910 and widely spread from the 20s to the 50s of the 20th century. Connecting these three components allows him to reveal a new level of communication permeating from the surface to the depths of Ondřej's work. Connecting the neon lights into the socket means Ondřej's work becomes totally dependent on electricity. The unmistakable reference to Dan Flavin is for Ondřej also a kind of criticism of commercialism of the current society.
While in previous cycles Ondřej Kotrč worked with light in a passive way – for example without sunshine the audience did not have the same experience from the object – we can now understand the use of electricity in his work as a kind of breakthrough. At the same time Ondřej demonstrates his desire not to repeat himself and to constantly come up with something to rephrase his work and move it to the next level.
Ondřej Kotrč is an author whose work I enjoy watching and I always enjoy working with. His approach to contemporary minimalist art production is fresh and the effort not to repeat himself makes the viewer wonder with what will Ondřej "come up" next time.