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11 Apr 2012

Gallery Kressling: Petr Pastrňák - Storm

© Petr Pastrňák

Petr Pastrňák - Storm
Gallery Kressling


From April 13 till May 24 2012 Opening Hours: Tue - Fri: 3pm - 8pm, Sat: 3pm - 9pm

Martin Adamkovic
+421 948 070 767

Gallery Kressling
Ventúrska 18
811 01 Bratislava

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For painter Petr Pastrňák there are no certainties when working on a piece of art. With each of his paintings, whether on canvas or paper, the artist pushes his limits and opens himself to expectations. Of course Petr has experience – not surprising given that he made a strong entrance on the Czech scene already back in the mid-1990s. He has his own painting methods and technique, his own distinct style that is naturally and continuously changing. This all gives grounds for the artist's self-confidence, stimulating the expectations of both the audience and the painter's collectors. But no one – not even the painter himself – knows what will happen in the next painting.

Following the Burning Forest and dark strips of industrial cities and factories that Pastrňák exhibited at the prestigious Václav Špála Gallery in Prague in the first two months of 2011, the painter introduced a new collection of paintings, titled The Tempest after the most abstract of them, at the Prinz Prager Gallery in Prague and the Beseda Gallery in Ostrava in the fall of the same year. Recently, the artist has been strongly drawn to the intense raging of the elements. Pastrňák uncovers the extreme state of landscape that is changing under the strain of stirring events to the point of vanishing in the abstractedness of what is happening. A burning forest, a whirlwind, a lightning bolt, and the staccato of rain, accompanied by a menacing or dark change in colour, alter the atmosphere of the painter's new paintings to something we are not used to in scenes from secluded forest spots and post-Classicist landscapes. The Tempest takes a savage grip on Pastrňák's specific expression, naturally developing his visual contemplation of the possible depiction of the landscape. At the same time it is, similarly to his blazing forests, a sort of metaphor of a feeling about the world, a sensitive record of the fears of the painter whose art is so closely linked to the physical and mental state of the author and the world in which he works.

Pastrňák is clearly always thinking about how to discover new impulses for himself to shift his own aesthetics, how to work with chance and be ready, how to build and rebuild his paintings anew even though he is well aware of not being able to fool himself. He loves the forest and relishes landscape and that is why he has been painting these subjects for so long, while finding their further potential for himself as well as for them. The artist swaps the blazing red among the trees for an extensive and brush-pleasing tempest that his gestical expression was sooner or later bound to lead him to; this is also about a purposeful and emotion-charged 'exhausting' of forest art aesthetics towards the extremes of 'unsightly' painting, whose novelty nevertheless makes it beautiful. In the meantime, Pastrňák transforms and tries out his technique of washing out colours, experiments with colours while employing varied drying times and monitoring what takes place on the canvas or paper. The speed of painting, with the necessary concentration and a specific mental and physical state on the part of the artist also playing an important role. Although a certain economy of means and colours in his latest paintings stands in contrast with the animation of more turbulent themes, it represents the complementary singularity of Pastrňák's style.

Later, we even see the fresh colours and vital seductiveness of the same forests in spring, when the painter sets out to capture his volatile contemplative visual impression with his impressive gesture, possibly following the Impressionist method. With a light Impressionistic palette, he even depicts on a small oblong format the panorama of a chemical plant, so poisonously stunning that it becomes an image as alluring as nature. The artist tries to change the cold blue Tempests into similarly bluish cold Floods; likewise he has produced a large painting with the calm rhythmical waves of the eternal sea. For quite some time now, Pastrňák has been travelling between the Czech Republic and South India. The latter fills him with a liberating feeling, simply being, working in the garden, making sketches. I believe that some of this feeling has pervaded his paintings, in which he depicts the local sacred mountain.

For Petr Pastrňák, painting is the expression of his mental and physical existence. He synthetizes the experience of Western painting, including admiration of various more or less traditional landscape artists, a familiarity with Eastern philosophies and the art of East Asia, and the desire to penetrate into and learn the structures of what is around us, what conforms and diverts us. Activity and contemplative activeness combined with discovery provide the basis for Petr's exceptional art, his peace and rage of the forests, the richness and emptiness of colours, the stratification of reasons for capturing reality, which is abstracted into paintings to render an unparalleled recess. We may not even know how we got there. Even so, there is enough space for us to guess.

Martin Dostál