Tóth, Dezider / Koan II
photographic record, canvas, 121.7 × 81 cm
This work is typical not only of Dezider Tóth’s production, but also of the entire Czechoslovak art scene during the 1970s and 80s. The unofficial art scene was characterized by a strong focus on action and performative art, whose processual aspects were captured and recorded. Koan II is a photographic record of the wiping-away of chalk-written messages and chalk drawings on boards prepared by the artist; these boards featured numerous question marks executed in indelible oil paint. This structure symbolized a starry sky. The chalk messages and drawings were created spontaneously by visitors who came to the artist’s home to attend unofficial private exhibitions during the 1970s. Tóth then used a wet sponge to wipe away this visual “noise”, thus emphasizing the essence – emptiness, or a background of potentiality. In the artist’s words, “the black background became deeper, the white question marks became more clearly visible” (from a letter to Helena Markusková, 6 October 2002).