ACQUISITION 2018/19 GVUO: The Impossible Planet / JOSEF BOLF
The film Heavy Planet, animated by Josef Bolf and first exhibited by him in 2014, contains a section presenting a bleak descent through the dark space of a dream universe. This idea could be used to characterize Bolf’s entire oeuvre. Although he tries his utmost to hold on to the everyday realities of the world, sooner or later he is swept away by a gravitational force that pulls him into an infinite space full of fantastical ideas and spiritual anxieties. For many years, the scene for his paintings, drawings, and also the above-mentioned film has been the uniform environment of communist-era housing estates with their typical backdrop of prefabricated concrete apartment blocks. And because Bolf has always drawn on his own personal experiences of growing up on just such an estate, he has become almost a spokesman for the “generation X” that was born during Czechoslovakia’s 1970s baby boom. This generation’s mindset was deeply influenced by the relocation of large sections of the population to newly built housing estates.
The exhibition The Impossible Planet presents the above-mentioned film (a recent acquisition for the Gallery of Fine Arts’ collection) and the paintings that originated while Bolf was working on the film, confronting these works with the artist’s more recent canvases. Bolf’s “film paintings” are uncharacteristic of his oeuvre as they present essentially non-narrative images of housing estates and the bleak “innards” of their apartment blocks, while in his new paintings he returns to the hallucinatory poetics that he finds in the intersection of external and internal realities. From the technical perspective, these new works represent a fusion of brushwork and a scratching technique that penetrates through overlaid layers of colour. Bolf’s previous work also featured these techniques separately from each other, but it is only recently that he has discovered the possibilities of a mutual synthesis offered by a combination of the two approaches. The exhibition The Impossible Planet thus reveals the stable presence of several motivic elements in Bolf’s work, yet it also shows the artist striking out to seek new possibilities for the artistic formulation and expression of these elements. The exhibition also features a collage created in situ from material and sketches for the film Heavy Planet.
A Premonition of Shadow