Michal Pechoucek Portrait of the Artist in the Digital Age
It seems almost impossible today to look for and to find meaning in the world, or an intelligible guiding principle. It is getting more difficult not to succumb to the gradual processes of differentiation in the social strata and to preserve one’s own, unstable and vulnerable, identity. What must be really soul-destroying is the need to communicate one's doubts through images, which refer to the increasingly relative traditions in the fine arts. The young Czech author Michal Pechoucek has chosen this anything but simple triad as a basic model for his work. He makes constant reference to this ideal, while being aware of its impenetrability and also a certain nostalgic contradictoriness.

Pechoucek’s most recent work, called »Sbûratel« (Collector), can be seen as a programmatic manifestation of his attitude to art. It is about a group of 26 paintings, whose content is fragmentary, mysterious and well-nigh beyond the grasp of the viewer. Some of these are representative of traditional genres of painting (the portrait, the still-life, the landscape) and contain a series of hidden post-modern references (Gustave Courbet, Caspar David Friedrich, Vincent van Gogh). An integral component of Sberatel is a video (of about 8 minutes) showing the series of paintings, which are clearly destined for some imaginary collector, being presented somewhere in the artist’s studio. Music by Bernhard Hermann (who composed sound tracks for Alfred Hitchcock films) plays a key role within the structure of this work and has directly inspired its line of thought. The whole work is variable in form given that, according to Pechoucek, it can be shown either «as a static gallery exhibition, a series of hanging paintings with a video, solely as a video, or as a series of photo reproductions with a video».

The mimetic strategy, which Pechoucek follows in »Sbûratel« arises from the marked contradiction between the banality of what is being shown and the aesthetically rich structure of the perceptive apparatus employed. The artist arranges the work as a linear kaleidoscope, emphasising neither concrete sections nor particular meanings, but concentrating instead on the course of the actual communication. He makes a consistent use of the technique of film editing by placing static shots next to one another so that their tension is heightened by this very juxtaposition, in a logical (or illogical) interaction. Thus the original idea of the painting as a work, which is to be hung and which underscores the relationship between the depth of the reality presented and the plane on which the illusionist translation is rendered, is confronted with the dynamic visual process of media reality.

Somewhere in the middle of »Sbûratel« (in one of the many frames) we see a philodendron leaf stuck in a beer bottle. Perhaps the richness of Michal Pechoucek’s work is concentrated in this detail. The essence of his art is often concealed in something that is not fully understood. By Michal Kolecek

  geb. 1973 in Duchcov, lebt in Prag 1993–99 Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Prag
Exhibitions (selection)
2003 »Collector«, Moravian Gallery, Brno (E.); »Survey 03«, Futura Gallery, Prague; »Inflexible Clash«, ICA, Dunaújváros, Hungary; »Mission Possible«, Prague Biennale 1, National Gallery, Prague; »Hounted Swings«, College of Art, Edinburgh / 2002 »Restaurant by the Hospital«, City Gallery, Prague (E.); »Fourth Biennial of Young Artists – ZVON 2002«, City Gallery, Prague / 2001 »Icing«, ICA, Dunaújváros, Hungary / 2000 »Life Suits to her.«, Jelení Gallery, Prague (E.); »Überlebenskunst« Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin

Sammler, 2003
Öl auf Leinwand
105 x 125 cm