Tomáš Absolon at SVIT

Artist: Tomáš Absolon

Exhibition title: New balance

Venue: SVIT, Prague, The Czech Republic

Curated by: Marek Pokorný

Date: September 15 – October 30, 2021

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

At first glance and without any additional information, one can essentially discern two basic elements of Tomáš Absolon’s paintings – usually they consist of a central motif that ostensibly depicts something without it being possible to tell exactly what is being represented, and a certain delicacy of technique that stops any attempt at seeing depth in its outset. That was my experience upon my first, unprepared encounter with the artist’s work some years ago.

Even though the compelling need I felt to interconnect my experience with Tomáš Absolon’s work with something that would help me process it led me in the direction of the past, where certain precedents can be found in Surrealism, I was perplexed by his aesthetics of the surface and emptying coupled with a quasi-pastel colour scheme that seemed rather to refer to something that may be termed generational stylistic strategy. This internal contradiction – the forming of meaning and its artistic negation – is precisely what appeals to me with regard to Tomáš Absolon’s artistic approach to this day. Adding some basic information on his starting points in the world of logos, particularly those of sport brands, and taking into account his efforts to produce on the surface something that one may picture in one’s mind, but that cannot be accomplished in three dimensions, my first impression was not that far from the “truth” of his paintings.

Self-evidently, Tomáš Absolon works by producing artwork series with a limited number of elements. One cannot, however, consider his work in terms of aleatoricism that would lead to their serial exhaustion. On the contrary, his practice focuses on searching for the optimal relations between the elements. In fact, the term dynamic equilibrium could be aptly applied here. The state of the system in question does not change, even though internal changes take place. And as with all attempts to achieve any kind of equilibrium, it is a matter of utmost fragility as well as a highly sensitive process. In every case, Absalon’s paintings thus constitute introverted artistic events that employ a framework visual strategy both as a symbol of the lived present and as way of protecting the subject from a descent into noncommunicative chaos.

The New Balance exhibition is the first attempt at capturing the essential nature of Tomáš Absolon’s practice so far on a fairly limited surface area. For this reason, we selected work from various periods, although the dominant position is held by three entirely new paintings. With the spatial design and installation, we tried to create a totality whose dynamic equilibrium is constantly renewed by the observations and movements of viewers around the gallery.

-Marek Pokorný