Dealing in monochromy, which, in this case, actually isn’t, is dealing with painting itself! Although even that category is, to be honest, very problematic, because what could painting itself be?
Two-dimensional surface covered in paint?
There, this introductory sentence could be the prototype of the whole problem I face in attempts to open up a way towards the work of Miran Blažek. The way meanders, escapes and appears again. At moments immensely erudite, asking for much theoretical knowledge to understand, and then yet simple to the point of banality, warning of the non-material dimension of his calling.
How does Blažek constructs a painting? He destroys and reconstructs the material basis of his work. Using candlelight, he burns and soots completely non-paintery matter of a fluffy rug. All imporant iconographic elements are staged: the candle as the symbol of our Western religion, fire as symbol of purification, and the personality of the authorial hand, nautralised by the unstable heat of the flame. The burnt rugs create a tryptich, universal power of three on which the transcedence of our world is based.
The painter writes the experience in candlelight on a rug! This creates a monotonous, although not entirely monochrome image of his meditative behaviour. We must indeed immediately notice that something unusual is going on. The experience of time that constituted the powerful spiritual dimension of monochromatic painting, the ritual power of land art and the meaning packed in the materic of informel has changed in Miran’s paintings. His art, or simply his work springs from this experience, but it is eased by the different position of the twenty first century.
Regardless of the real heaviness of the period, the actual uncertainty of life we live, or maybe exactly because of it, our time demands self-referential laughter. Miran Blažek brings it into the contemplative seriousness of his sooted rugs.
All the ritual seriousness of these works evaporates faster than it is created.
If your thoughts should wonder, if you should look at them from another angle, you will doubtless ask yourself, what it was that you saw in them at all? In the blink of an eye, all their deep contemplation is lost.
It is truly senseless and meaningless, you will think then! But this courageous lack of meaning will tickle you in the very next moment, and you will start looking for the lost layers of these unusual works again. What could it be, the round rug entitled At the right place at the right moment, put on the floor of the gallery? While I try cover the experience of these works in words, remembering the moments when I experienced them in the presence of the author, i feel the self-same evaporation of meaning.
Our talks always started from an almost empty field, in which neither the subject nor the cause of the meeting is known. We stood like that facing each other in an apparently empty studio with a few works from prior times. They surrounded us like extras from a past show, somewhat meaningless in their inappropriateness.
Although new works were present as well, they were impossible to recognise then. Until we started talking about them, they stood in shadows, completely invisible to the present moment. The moments themselves were astoundingly similar to the emptied field of his paintings. Talk started imperceptibly, without important words. Fumbling, a bit awkward. And in only a few minutes, a complete dramatic reversal would take place. We found common ground! I don’t know, perhaps through sentences spoken, perhaps through looks. Our experiences overlapped. The effect of this even is similar to the moment when a dark stage is suddenly lit by mighty, carefully articulated theatrical lights. With only a few associate series spoken, we would arrive from mute silence to the exciting marrow of the complex corpus of a work of art.
They were all already there: Adrenochrome,Sacra convezacione, At the right place at the right moment, Still life, Wake me up, Monument. Only the Commercial Painting, painted in gold dye directly on the wall of the gallery yet awaited its embodiment. As if adrenochrome really worked, as if our own adrenaline produced a different kind of experience. This sounds like the description of a mystical event, but we were really only looking at works for exhibition. But the efficiency of their self-presentation with a few instructions from Blažek was amazing and repeated at every meeting. This is why I claim that the instability of the supposed non-material dimension is their greatest strenght. They are realised in vibration, and vibration is what they show.
Art is here similar to alchemy, whose processes are always unstable, painfully dependant on catalysts of completely undefined characteristics. I shall claim that the content of Blažek’s work is in the vibration, which, in its extreme form, as literal quote, appears in Wake me up. On a naked raw canvas, a series of very thin lines is drawn in freehand, following the warp of the weave.
This minimalisation of the intervention, from soot to thin, barely discernable lines, will culminate in the Still life, the “monochrome” in which there is really nothing, and the cut canvas with its forms of baroque frame associates the beauty of painting from times past. In the Commercial Painting, the content lost its foundation, so the gold of the painting is stuck directly to the gallery wall.
If there were no vibration of meaning and form that I have tried to describe, and if there really were no self-fertilising oxidation process, it would be a tired story of analysis of painting itself, but Miran Blažek goes further. His works are made alive by balancing between the forces of nature, ubiquitous references of cultural circle, and self-ironic relativisation of the personal mantra of the creative process.
The big black monochrome is the image of a monolith; it is its visualistaion. Blažek says it’s a Monument that cannot stand on its own, it is large and powerful like the monolith signifying the beginning of civilisation, consciousness of history, but it must lean against the wall. It was painted in traces of hand dipped in black, covering its own trace with sufficient number of touches. The surface becomes monolithic and monochromatic due to the hypnotic repetition of the same motion. Whose anthropometry is this? Or is it perhaps just a two-dimensional surface covered in paint?