Winterthur

Vaclav Pozarek

A cloak of silence has fallen on sculpture. While the discourse on painting periodically delves into the disappearance or new guises of a given genre, autonomous sculpture seems to have long since disappeared. Three-dimensional developments have been installations, usually mixtures of disparate media.

Vaclav Pozarek is furthering the discourse on sculpture, however, by combining a series of spatial elements, each of which could easily stand on its own, with photographs, collages, and drawings as an installation for the duration of an exhibition. In the process, the preconditions of exhibition are thematized in the individual works. For instance: A wooden partition, rendered freestanding by a support construction, divides the room. On one side are mounted four found wooden crates, as if the entire wall construction had been created just for their presentation. The exhibition wall and the exhibited object merge as an autonomous sculpture in space, tied together by a red surface treatment that functions variously as undercoat or protective outer coat and plays on the tradition of painted sculpture. The crates’ openings are barred by an interior board parallel to the crate bottom—a specific reference to the boxes of Donald Judd.

While postmodernism’s use of quotation went hand in hand with the cynical belief that all art was fodder for fleeting samplings, Pozarek’s deliberate rewriting of modernism, exhibiting the artist’s fine Czech sense of humor, can also be understood as self-irony. Art is, to borrow Adorno’s saying about philosophy, the most serious matter, and then again not so serious, either. The minimal, closed cube becomes a pedestal, for it holds a turned-up chair: closing time at the museum. Pozarek also carved Magritte’s pipe by hand, while the painting of the pipe is deconstructed in various collages. In Pozarek’s sculptural praxis, object and image alternately put one another in question.

The wooden crates appear again and again. Their closed form cannot conceal the fact that it’s been a long time since the autonomy of sculpture went uncontested. By overcoming the pedestal, the sculptural form freed itself and moved closer to its architectonic context. The “radical act of decentering that would include the space to which the body appeared and the time of its appearing,” which Rosalind Kraus discerns as early as Rodin and Brancusi, can only have led to the kind of architectonic space found in Pozarek’s exhibition constellation.

A polyester module constructed with geometrical rigor is rotated horizontally and vertically on all sides to become a highly variable form that, along with white-glazed wooden boxes and additional polyester wall elements, constitutes an entirely white-on-white room. The rows of sculptural elements follow an orthogonal grid that continues on the wall heedless of the distinction between plane and elevation. Pozarek has Laocoön and his sons not just strangled by snakes, but also dissolved in the interlocking, stampcut puzzle pieces of a graphic edition: Not without recalling the possibility of an integral figure should anyone succeed in finishing the puzzle.

Hans Rudolf Reust

Translated from German by Sara Ogger.