Michal Nesázal – The Gate to Hidden Worlds
It is not for nothing that Nesázal is known as a painter-solitaire, seeking his own path to depicting reality. That reality is exceptionally cultivated, endowed with the purity and magical colourfulness of dream scenery, economical in its figurative expression, but with many layers of meaning. It is a vision freed of narrativity, influenced by the artist’s interest in quantum physics, astronomy, and cosmology, and always accompanied by an innovation and a new formal approach. Contemplating the various possible approaches to painting landscape, he called his paintings ‘Gates’, gates to other worlds. These worlds, however, were it seems not always external; they could rather be seen as internal, moving between real space and the imagination, the present and a utopia outside time. These canvases are characterised by some kind of distinctive cybernetic-realist style, as the titles of several of the artist’s exhibitions indicate: Neonland (2002), Ultra Space (2007), Vivid Space (2008), Pure Land (2010).
If landscape paintings, with their substitutive features of bodies of water, mountains, vegetation, and blue skies, are at all to rank among introverted forms of expression, then the figures of imaginary persons, filling the artist’s paintings and drawings, form his alter ego. This allegedly all began when he was fifteen, when a strange man and invisible guru began walking with him, without the artist knowing a thing about him, until suddenly there was an encounter and wordless conversations. In 1997 the artist devoted an entire exhibition to this figure titled The Most Beautiful World (Nejkrásnější svět, Nová síň, Prague), as though he wanted to grant him entry into the paradise of a colourful universe, full of flowers, scents, and light. Here his mysterious pilgrim, despite having accompanied him for many years, always had the same preserved face and wore a hat in the shape of a planet in outer space, while turning his gaze to the skies.
Many years later, in 2012, the artist had an exhibition in the Tower of the Old Town Hall (Staroměstská radnice) in Prague at which he presented a series of drawings of strange intangible creatures, most of them female, with a round head, large eyes, and a tiny mouth, under the title E.L.F. (Everlasting Love Forever) – a paraphrase of Robert Knight’s hit song from 1968. Here he drew on his inspiration from the purity of the watercolour and ink drawings and paintings that he encountered on his many trips to China, which is also where he got his rice paper, special brushes, and quality ink. ‘These ideas came to me by themselves, because intuition moves much faster than rational thought. It’s like spontaneously capturing a visual idea, but concentration is required first’, is how the artist describes his approach. He did not specifically make clear who these ethereal creatures represent, he only mentioned that they inhabit another world: ‘I’d leave the interpretation up to the viewer, my feeling is that there’s lots of room there for that and I wouldn’t want to limit it in any way’, he explained. The installation of drawings was accompanied by small wooden structures, with theoretical postulates, delving into both the artist’s mind and his work space.
At the start of the 1990s, when Nesázal began to work, having graduated from the studio of Jiří Sopek at the Academy of Fine Art in Prague, and when he was also a member of the group Monday (Pondělí), he was exhibiting figurative stuffed-animal objects, and another of his fellow pilgrims, a three-legged dog, along with variously modified trivial objects, toys, and trinkets in intimately conceived installations. He won the Jindřich Chalupecký Award in 1992 for a series of drawings of the three-legged dog Taco, in which he reported on his mystical encounter with a stray dog. For the artist, and for us all, this was a period of restlessness, volatility, irony, and existential anxiety. Perhaps that is why the artist ultimately deflected his gaze from what was inside him and found a way out through the creation of imaginary, dreamy landscapes, as a way of having recourse to another, more beautiful world. He presented perfection of the craft of painting and the free playfulness of poetics in his precisely painted, ideally arranged sceneries. ‘I want it to be something that has the ability to “purify” and regenerate a person in a short time. That is where I believe art has a chance.’
However, not long after he presented his ‘silicon paintings’ in the environmentally clean Neonland in 2002, he discovered that a person probably cannot derive all their satisfaction from a harmonically ordered world, in part because in these acrylic paintings of idealised absolute landscapes there is no longer any place for humans. This led him to go back to his inner visions and to drawing as the oldest artistic medium, as ‘in an age when art is increasingly complicated, drawing is an honest mirror, which simply shows whether something is or is not there’. Small chipboard lean-tos against the wall still fulfilled a harmonising function in the installation space, and one of them even bore the Old Testament name Gate Dimension, although ‘the focal point of this world is transported into our minds’. Similarly the video-projection of the universe across the width of one whole wall, inspired by NASA images of the universe, expressed the artist’s interest in dimensions beyond the framework of our ‘terrestrial‘ world and in cosmological themes in general.
The artist has thus not let go of his interest in worlds beyond our own. The boundary between ideas about the future and the internal world of the psyche is however a fragile one; the artist’s world is rationally irrational, spiritual, platonic. In recent years, in a cycle titled Models of the World (Modely světů), Nesázal’s painting, which had hitherto depicted mainly a personal fictional world, were enriched with cosmological symbols, signs, and optical structures expressing the objective possibility of weaving various other worlds into our present one. This touches on the grand story of space and time that is currently in new and surprising ways being formulated by modern-day science, and it questions what exactly reality is. Even a world far away can meld with one that is very nearby.
- 7 individuálních katalogů
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