Jiří Kornatovský / Style Declarative

October 13th 2017- January 28th 2018

The exhibition will introduce the visitor to the massive coal toroids of Jiří Kornatovský (*1952), in which the act itself of drawing, that is, the directed movement of the hand and entire body, is the very meaning of the work. The constant repetition and cyclicality of this coal-produced, DECLARED, movement connects the resulting drawings with spiritual exercise and meditation.

Using his coal, the artist wages war against the shapelessness and stillness of empty space, the possibilities of which are at first limited but in their essence, after one overcomes one´s own, limited, imagination and breaks into a state of creative rapture, are endless. He wills empty space into mass and constant motion. Stroke by stroke, he layers the black coal and shapes it into imposing forms, curves, hollows, abysses, and toroids, which undulate and pulsate before the eyes of those who lose themselves gazing into the center of the whirlwind.

Kornatovský never wanted to retell stories, fictional or true, or to transfer to carton meanings or thoughts which belong solely to the world of knowledge and philosophy. It is in this very directness, unburdened by connections to the world outside of the drawings themselves, that he finds his power. The lines, and the mass they create, is the meaning. It is thanks to this initial “emptiness” with which the artist approaches his work that his drawings are full of the deep meaning of discovery. To understand creation is impossible without openness and emptiness, in the sense of forgoing unnecessary thoughts, expectations, and prejudices which prevent us from fully experiencing life and art. 

Flowers of desire and evil / from the collection of the Gallery of Modern Art in Hradec Králové

…shall you leave the comfort of warmer places
for an intoxicating, bitter flower?
The flower blooms already. Come, if you will, let us go… 

Flowers: their transient beauty fascinated philosophers, mystics, and shamans for centuries and they are a major theme for artists, in whose hands they become full of hidden meanings and speak a language comprehensible only to the initiated.  

We never cease to be fascinated by that mysteriously quiet, unvoiced yet enthralling beauty which appears regularly and briefly, at once fragile and resilient, its shining colors and wondrous shapes seeming to have no practical purpose, as if they belonged to another world. There are flowers of evil, poisonous flowers, flowers for lovers, and flowers for anyone searching for purpose; there are pure flowers but also lewd ones, beckoning for as-yet undiscovered pleasures. But you may also encounter flowers of wisdom and learning, whose wondrous petals close according to the golden ratio, fractals which may be a miniature embodiment of everything we know about the world… everything we can and may dream of.

Even Zen builds its tradition on the meeting of a flower and smiling Buddha: “Master, we have followed your teaching for years. Can you tell us what the essence of it is?” Everyone waits for an answer. Buddha wordlessly picks a flower growing in front of him, lifts it to the sky and smiles…