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House of Art
TUES–SUN 10.00–18.00

Nešleha, Pavel / Elements

1999–2001

mixed technique, digital print, combined wooden structure and kappa boards, height 420 × 110 × 110 cm

purchased 2020 with the support of the Czech Ministry of Culture

This object is an example of Nešleha’s fascination with the elements. In terms of form, it represents a shift towards experimentation which came late in his career. His earlier work exemplified a manual, handcrafted approach to painting, drawing, material expression and working with photography; however, the form of this object belongs to the 21st century, displaying Nešleha’s creative flexibility and refusal to remain static, his continuous exploration of artistic horizons. In this tall cubic structure, the elements are depicted in the form of digitally altered static photographs of television screens. The images include authentic elements of the broadcast medium, including the emblem of the TV station and the technical features of the TV appliance itself. The elements – an archetypal phenomenon – are here transposed using new media. The tower-type structure of the object is somewhat deceptive; when reading and attempting to decipher the visual images on its walls, we have a tendency to seek out successions, progressions, connections, and hierarchical relations – as well as narratives. However, we then discover that the individual surfaces do not express any explicit narrative. Instead we are confronted with a non-hierarchical plurality of signs – a typical feature of post-modern art.

NEŠLEHA PAVEL

(1937–2003) Painter, graphic artist, creator of objects, teacher. Nešleha studied under Alois Fišárek at the Prague Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design. He ranked among the most prominent figures of the Czech art scene in the 1970s and 80s. In 1971 he won the gold medal (the Premio Césare Sofianopulo) at the Trieste graphic art biennale. In 1975 he won the silver medal for graphic art at the international MIOR 75 exhibition, held to mark 30 years since the foundation of the United Nations. Nešleha’s early work still contains residual traces of modernism, but in the 1960s he became increasingly influenced by materiality and the structural features of informel. This tendency remained prominent in all his remaining work. An important feature of Nešleha’s works is his interest in the precise technical depiction of details and the construction of various biomorphic shapes. Thematically, his main focus is on the elements: fire, water, air and earth. His work presents a surrealist integration of specific and indeterminate propositions, mythology, and symbolism. Nešleha also transfers two-dimensional artistic images into three-dimensional objects. Towards the end of his career he moved away from material substance and focused on depicting light.
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