The work of Ondřej Vicena (1988, Prague) is a catalogue of excursions to tasteless and forbidden styles and aesthetics. It embodies a fascination of a TV child grown up on the imported junk of western commercial production. His is a style cultivated by hundreds of hours spent at flea markets searching through vans filled with stuff from burglarized German cottages. Poverty developed Vicena’s ability to find formally monumental solutions using sticks, ropes and black tape.
However, cinematic sensitivity doesn’t accentuate only the idealization and dramatisation of initially obscure material; it also parodies the previously built genre. Affectation, exaggeration and theatricality are increasingly tightened and the artist himself becomes the main four-eyed character of this epic melodrama. The exhibition at the FUTURA Gallery presents a series of Vicena’s new works dealing with Van Gogh’s crows, infinite mirrors and 3D crystals.
Those are however not connected via some thematic conception, the verbal expressible of “what theexhibition is about”. Vicena rather works with a certain cultural mechanism, itself an ever repeatingcircle from the fashionable to the obscure. The exhibition is therefore entirely formal, but not empty ofcontent. It plays on the stylistic mechanism that we in some ways could call overplaying, and thatintentionally works with escalated emotions and associations. It requires a sophisticated and visuallysensitive viewer, like all of us nowadays; constantly exposed to an excess of visual culture, to open agentle game of catching after baits, masks and pirouettes, the dance of tricks, gestures andemotions.
“I wanted to show a place where a man can destroy himself, lose his mind... commit a crime.”
Kirk Douglas as Vincent Van Gogh in the biographical film Lust for Life
Vincent van Gogh’s crows, carrying the burden of the myth of pre-mortal fatality, become a walldecor making the walls of the room transparent and bringing them closer to the row of windows onthe other side. The opposite position of the windows and the drawings provides the charcoal birdshadows with the ability to portray the omnipresent sticker scarecrows whose purpose is to scareaway birds, preventing them from hitting transparent surfaces.
Similarly, endless lakes with a “very true” double surface without reflection function, from a humanobserver’s point of view, both as a decoy and a repellent. Shiny, covered with a stage cloth andbordered by charred frames, the lakes are offered to gallery visitors as a virtual reality “gadget”.
Themode of a hacked showroom box at a technology & design fair is further stressed by glass blocks,artefacts to be worshipped, exhibited on suspended laths. The glass blocks include built-inpresentations of the most familiar consumer goods; however, in this setting their familiarity raisessuspicion.
Only a flock of black rows can bring peace to this bleak landscape.