Ondřej Petrlík at SVIT

Artist: Ondřej Petrlík

Exhibition title: Black Lion

Venue: SVIT, Prague, The Czech Republic

Date: January 25 – March 10, 2018

Photography: Tomas Soucek, all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and SVIT, Prague

Let me try to describe, at least partially, the set of paintings which are going to be shown at the Black Lion (Černý lev) Exhibition so that you know what to write. You have not seen any single one of them. Nevertheless, you are familiar with my artistic work and know how and where I live.

Are you still in Petrohradská street?

Yes, I am still there, for now. This is, however, not so relevant at the moment as we are not going to produce a text of art critique. This should be a text related to other texts, ones that are of a slightly older date of origin. Anyway, it is the present tense and time that oppresses us now more than the future. Will you write it?

Don’t know.

I will start with the central piece, a painting that bears the name of the exhibition and the exhibition bears the painting’s name.

It is a 160 x 140 cm format painting.

Can you outline it a bit more clearly? I need you to be more specific.

Specifically; it consists of a line and mass which leads and urges to observe a shape resembling an animal and a mountain at the same time. The underpainting is in blue and grey, it is all covered by titanium white over which I painted animal fur in black.

Gestic strokes close themselves into one compact mass. The eyes and mouth of the lion are then scored through the black into the underlying colours by the reverse side of the brush.

It made me think of one poem.

One of yours?

By Stephen Spender, but let us continue.

One of the most recent paintings is Wool from the Black Isles where I resided for some time. It is projected in sky-blue colour; the white area is the original gessoed oil mass and there is one more colour used for the letters in the upper section of the painting. O is on the left and P on the right. It is a signature and a coloured shape at the same time. This shape makes up the plane of the painting, at the same time it provides a certain aspect of detachment from it. Is it comprehensible?

One can definitely infer something out of this already.

Another painting, of a 150×180 format, is an important element of the overall situation. It represents a slanting sea. A painting created with difficulty in monstrous cobalt blue, underlying colours are black, white, pink and golden. Nothing underneath the slanting horizon is visible any more; just like two roofs of a miserable farm a couple of hours before its death. The painting Snake and Two Planets is a self-portrait; there is only the purple spinning on the green background and the golden planet towards the smaller one. A small black cloud is a remote but signalling motif. All is turning around the rain underneath the cloud which does not have to necessarily originate from the springs of one river. There are other works which I am however not going to write about.

Different living is not living in different places

But creating in the mind a map

Creating in the mind a desert

An isolated mountain or a kinder health resort.

When I frowned, creating desert, Time only

Shook once his rigid column, as when Ape

Centuries before, with furrowed hand

Grabbed at stone, discerning a new use:

Putting a notch against the minds´ progress:

Shaking Time, but with no chance of Place.

Beautiful! I think we have got it now!

-Ondřej Petrlík and Zdeněk Maria Hroch