Daniel Pitín

Artistic explorations of cinematic conventions have grown to become their own field. The canvases of Daniel Pitín, a painter born in Prague in 1977, are steeped in cinematography. “My work begins in front of the monitor,” the artist has said. “I watch different films and wait for a scene to capture me. I like rather undetermined situations, just fragments of whatever story. A movement, a scream, a fall . . . .” Once a moment has been extracted, Pitín paints an unflinching, obsessive, magical picture. He evokes the Hollywood myths conveyed by the great storytellers of American cinema, but he fragments their settings, dissolving them into intangibility. The paintings are created by adding and subtracting layers, by retouching and blurring the pictorial reminiscences of movies.

More recently, however, Pitín has started to paint against the illusion of the very kind of cinema that had long been his great source of inspiration. It’s as if he were now convinced that the artificiality of space can only take on substance on the painter’s canvas. Pitín negotiates this space as a model, as a stage, or as an empty, abandoned place; as a construction that no longer functions as a film backdrop but as the painting’s architecture. Pitín offers potential spaces; as in a detective story, he adds pieces of evidence that allow the viewer to guess at their functions, but which all ultimately lead nowhere: People sit on folding chairs in front of cheerless facades in the glaring sun of an urban concrete stage, in front of a dark-blue security gate (Flashback, 2007); others come together on the stairs of a dirty industrial building (Dresden, 2006), which they seem to be trying to enter in vain; people huddle together in a garden in front of a marquee (Blindman’s Buff, 2007), much like Hitchcock’s seagulls; a man stands hunched over in front of a house with black window holes (Architekt, 2007). Pitín builds his sets with imaginary walls, facades, scaffolding, and concrete slabs, and guides the viewer through these constructions into hostile cities and unapproachable landscapes. Desktops fly through a messy offi ce onto which doors open like black caves from within long hallways (Flying Office, 2007); floodlights illuminate stagelike constructions immersed in darkness, casting a greenish light onto an unreal-looking background, where a woman sits with her back to us (Office, 2007). Pitín’s spaces are uncomfortable, damaged, irritating, mysterious.

The porous thresholds and visual barriers in these suggestive paintings heighten the question of what has happened here, or will happen. By reducing the time of the cinematic narrative to a vague moment, Pitín causes the familiar and the unsettling to dissolve into one narrative space in which the foundation of our perception wavers.

Brigitte Huck

Translated from German by Ute Zimmermann.