Life Is Painful and Breeds Disappointment

  • 25/11/2016 – 15/1/2017
  • Curated by Otto M. Urban
  • Galerie města Plzně
  • Plzeň CZ
The exhibition Life Is Painful and Breeds Disappointment: Lovecraft looks at the influence that H. P. Lovecraft, that central figure of modern horror, has had on contemporary art. It also represents the first attempt at fully exploring this subject within the context of Czech art. The growing interest in Lovecraft is also reflected by several recent publications that have explored his work in relation to both film and literature. In 2010–2013, the Puls publishing house released his collected writings, and Lovecraft was also the subject of articles in Živel (no. 37, 2013) and A2 magazines (no. 6, 2015). He first appeared in Czech in 1970 in the short story collection Lupiči mrtvol (The Body Snatcher). At the time, leading figures such as Josef Škvorecký and František Jungwirth were interested his work, but for a long time after, Lovecraft’s writings could not be published here, since the communists considered horror to be a decadent bourgeois literary genre. In practice, this meant that (with just a few exceptions) no horror novels were published, nor did horror films have much luck getting distributed. The situation changed somewhat during the 1980s with the emergence of video. Primitively dubbed (usually by just one person) horror films were some of the most popular videos to be passed around and copied from one person to another throughout the country.
In fact, the generation that came of age in the 1980s was pretty much the first to get to know both the classics of horror as well as B-movie productions. In this sense, Czech artists of this generation had the same experience with the horror genre as their peers living abroad, and it is no coincidence that the 1990s saw the rapid infiltration of horror-themed motifs into the arts throughout the world. Horror-influenced art ranges widely in terms of both form and content – from atmospheric depictions of angst and wild pop-art creations all the way to images of harrowing cruelty. Few subjects resonate so strongly with today’s society, which is characterized by fear and anxiety. H. P. Lovecraft has long been properly recognized and appreciated by literary historians, and his work has received much serious attention. The exhibition presents works by artists who approach Lovecraft’s work in various ways and in various forms, from painting, drawing or sculpture all the way to installations and video. 
Josef Bolf
Jakub Gajdošík
Stanislav Karoli
Eva Maceková
Martin Mulač
Martin Salajka
Richard Stipl
Marek Škubal
František Štorm
Jan Vytiska