FRANTIŠEK CHRÁSTEK 700 nm
The propagation of light (so important to photography) can be described with the help of the electromagnetic wave theory. Wavelength is the distance between two consecutive ridges of a wave. Most photographers range from 380 to 780 nm (ie visible in light). Photographer František Chrástek can be found almost exclusively among those longer waves. This does not mean a stormy ocean (the nanometer is 10 to minus the ninth meter), but the author's "luminous manuscript" has eventually settled to "absolute red" (as one of his recent exhibitions), about 700 nm long.
The flagship of František Chrástek's works has been the modern concept of the still life genre for many years. His inspiration could initially be found in Czech and world abstract art. The images of concrete, elementary simple props in the production, details, surprising cuts and in the original ways of lighting the scenes were loosing the meanings of the original objects and concentrated things much harder to grasp, transcendent.
Here, Chrástek, perhaps intuitively, gets to a position known more than from the European tradition in the tradition of the Eastern conception of creation. I do not dare to take a short excursion into the history of Japanese art-historical thinking on the occasion of the photographer's Japanese exhibition, but we can see some correlations in my opinion.
Let us note the term "Yūgen", which has often appeared in old Japanese poetic manuals, when "Yū" means "dark, hidden" and "gen" means "dark, black". The compound then meant "depth and mystery, mysteriousness." If, in Chinese thinking from Tang, it has a profound meaning as contrast to superficial or banal, in Japan, it has always a meaning of aesthetic. Fujiwara Mototoshi defines "Yūgen" as a mysterious, indefinite mood. The innocence and simplicity, with the emphasis on concrete detail along with the reflection of one's own destiny in the sense of futility of human action, is what Chrástek brings to some directions of the traditional Japanese art. In the last author's work, we find beauty in what is worn by the signs of fading, dullness, something that has lost the original shine, that is called "sabi" in Japan - abandoned, worn out by old age, rusted, faded. "Sabi" signifies the decrepitation of things. And in the later definitions of "Yūgen", the elements of mystery and indefinability ware emphasized. "It is completely impossible to explain what is the wondrous beauty of the Yūgen" (Shōtetsu monogatari,
Book 16). In this evocation, the Japanese traditional poetics is closely approaching the modern poetics. Also in the Japanese tradition, we are faced with surprising courage to end the image where it should barely begin. The efficacy of the hint increases by affecting all of our perceptions of growing out of the context of the overall atmosphere. "If we say all that remains." Japanese poet Basho once told his disciple.
However, Chrástek is, above all, a Czech photographer and finds his sources of initiation primarily in the region of Central and Western Europe. In the last concentrated work (created this year), he turns to many new aspects to the nature morte genre (literally dead nature in French, but means still life in the visual arts). In one of his essays, Roland Bartes argues that photography is always permeated with the image of "vanitas" (Latin in vain) and its essence is transience. The vanitas type still life belonged mainly to the Baroque painting, which has a great tradition in Bohemia. The latent and period-transformed inspirations in the Baroque will now be found in the Chrstek's latest works (Study of Ruin - vanity, Post morte, Monoceros and others). They are united by the extremely delicately balanced color scheme, the bizarre of some shapes, the sophistication of mutual counterpoints between objects, the complex allegorical symbolism of the hints and, at the same time, the surprisingly simple means by which this world of amazement and illusion of "baroque theater" builds. Although many of these practices seem to be in direct opposition to Japanese perception of aesthetics of shapes, I think there has never been a fear of irregularity - on the contrary, it has always been a natural part of creation. The more dramatically the time space is concentrated at some point, the more we feel and experience it, the more we realize the finality.
Christian symbols and concepts in contexts of corporeality (such as Crucifixion or Christ in Red) are undoubtedly inspired by part of Andres Serrano's work. The "sexuality" of the red, from which matter flows, the female legs of "Crucifixion" illusively radiate sacred light. In recent years, the Western cult Veraikon "veil of St. Veronica", often referred to as the allegorically mentioned Western cult Veraikon, is evoking in the Red cloth or Shroud. The mystery of the "Turin Canvas" with the imprint of Christ's body in the negative can be interpreted in a symbolic plane as the "first photographic image". In a different level, an intimate Self-portrait of the hand is led into pain and loneliness, abandonment, activity, belonging, good and evil imprinted together.
The consistency of the chosen system in the choice of motifs, in their stylization, rhythm and subsequent distribution seems to be a measure of the urgency of the testimony and opens the audience the idea that all these characters encode a difficult primary experience to communicate. Although František Chrástek uses simple props in his still lifes, his work touches on the undefinable natural forces and basic biological facts of man and, of course, the stop of regular or rhythmic movement in nature - the movement of us, water, clouds, fire and cosmic bodies. These circuits seemed to show also the clearly defined color of the resulting prints (in the "basic" red and blue). Obviously, the author's narrative takes up a much wider section of reality, but the art order is undoubtedly understood to be isomorphic with the order of the microcosm and the macrocosm.
The sophisticated record of apparent motion in images, movement that increases and decreases, develops, stands out and recedes is the basic characterization of two decades of photographer's work. Ultimately, it is the expression and instrument of the modus vivendi, based on a precisely formulated belief in the physiology and functioning of the world's forces in its intangible wholeness.
Stability from the initial routing in the area of large-format static photography is conditioned by the regularity and uniformity of changes in Chrástek's works. The imaginative color still life prevails, balanced by subjectively sensed landscape and black-and-white and later also colored acts. Simple shapes dominate the picture, using minimalist tonal transitions and impressive light contrasts in minimalist compositions. Inspiring impulses are often found in free interpretations from the field of fine art - especially painting (eg, The Square by Malevich / 1987). Consistency, complexity and respect for the "Good Shape Law" with well organized form is never directed to any spectacular decoration, but is more of an interpretation, incantation, evocation and perhaps even a silent rest. In the first plan of Chrástek's works we perceive above all the ability to balance between "empty" and "full" and the dynamics of the individual parts of the composition, which are rearranged, interchanged and re-assembled similarly to the assemblage. Also note one thing: in all variations, the most straightforward direction of motion and diagonal orientation remain. Most of the scanned photographs seems to be quite specific memory records (although they are not the first name for individual sections of personal everydayness). Elementary geometric shapes that occur only rarely in nature have an important role in his works. The main motif is underscored with an extremely precisely and clearly composed background, from which it is highlighted by a contrasting smooth surface (In Honour of the Square (1992) or Red Square (1994).
Only rarely does any of the configurations resemble animal or human corporeality, a stylized mask or face from the totem (White Dragonfly (1998), Icarus on My Wall (1998 ), Grin (1987)). Nevertheless, it cannot be said that the photographer consistently renounces metaphorical meanings (let's name at least Inferno (1992), Something We Can't See (1994), The Limits of Darkness (1996) and Penetration Analysis (2000), but much more remains). However, they resemble the variability in the author's private act of magic or metamorphosis in capturing than the usual metaphorical message.
Part of the author's work now follows the older black-and-white photographs of female acts from the early 1980s. In his color prints, Chrástek keeps the basic characterizing features of the traditional genre, with the poses of his models guided by the ingraduate observation precision. Strict austerity and rigidity is disturbed by the light, which here seems to open up the erotic and sexual symbolism of the images (this can also be latently discovered in many of the older still lifes). In the act of Provocative Red from the turn of the century, it connects the titles of original work with the present one. The diagonal orientation of the female body (which further amplifies dynamics) consistently models the moment with its own rhythm in the flow of time. The moment in which the existence of man may be constituted as a result of many forces. Or more concretely in the next picture, the red tonality suppresses and indeterminate the body model as a secret. The lightly accentuated facial expression seems to give our floppy journey
a personal sense of character through the world.
In addition to the erotic and sexual symbolism of images, light and color also open up their counterpart. And that is the limitations of our lives. The mystery is deepened by the mystery that we experience in ourselves, and which opens to us in ourselves.
14.9. 2003 ALEŠ KUNEŠ