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KRAJINY PAMĚTI  /  LANDSCAPES OF MEMORY

VÝSTAVNÍ SÍŇ MÁNES, PRAHA 1, MASARYKOVO NÁBŘEŽÍ 250, 13. 7. - 5. 8. 2000

Press releases 

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Biography
born 22. 8. 1961, Hořice, N. Bohemia
study 1976 - 1979 vocational school in Prague (arts and crafts)
1980 – 1987 employed as wood restorer  by State Heritage Institute, Pardubice
1987 – 1990 employee of Housing Management, Pardubice
1990 first solo exhibition
since 1990 - freelance
lives and works at Heřmanův Městec

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Exhibitions
1985 Klub kultury, Pardubice (with Jaroslav Richter)
1987 MIT Committee on the Visual Arts, Massachusetts, USA (Out of Eastern Europe, Private Photography)
1988 Galerie Moderního umění,  Hradec Králové (group exhibition)
Horácká galerie, Nové město na Moravě (group exhibition)
1989 Museum, Kolín (with Karel Nepraš, Jan Steklík, Karel Meister))   
1990 ÚLUV, Prague (Česká alternativa)
ÚLUV, Prague (Hapestetika)
Correctional Institute, Valdice (group exhibition)
1991 Krefeld, Germany (Tschechische Kunst im Haus Greffenhorest)
Východočeská galerie, Pardubice (group exhibition)
1992 Galerie Pecka, Prague (group exhibition)
1994 Chambre de Commerce et Industrie, Strasbourg, France
Museum Los Angeles, USA (group exhibition)
Galerie R, Prague (“142” - solo exhibition)
1995 Archa, Zlín (Revolver Revue group exhibition)
1998 Ruchadlo, Zájezd u České Skalice (group exhibition)
1999 Galerie U slunce, Heřmanův Městec (solo exhibition)

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Bibliography
Out of Eastern Europe, Private Photography -   katalog výstavy, 1987, MIT Comitee on the Visual Arts, Massachusetts, USA
Hapestetika - katalog výstavy, 1990, ULUV, Praha
Prdelí do rána, rozhovor s L. Krejcarem - Vokno, září 1992
Antonín Šimek, Mezi šklebem a pokorou - Revolver Revue, říjen 1993
Jan Rous, Kočky strážící Libora Krejcara - Playboy, leden 1994, roč. 4
Jan Rous, Sochy Libora Krejcara - Ateliér, 1994, č. 22
Jana Chytilová, Mojí univerzitou byla hospoda - Xantypa, srpen 1996

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Sentinels of a vanished world
Let the heavens discover that God offers the same delight as cork or mud
J. L. Borges, The Cult of the Phoenix

Libor Krejcar wrote somewhere that he constructed his first statue when he was 17. That was probably the time he was completing a woodcarving course at a school of arts and crafts, which was one of those vocational schools designed for talents that could not find an outlet elsewhere. Art there was confined to craftsmanship and those individuals who did use it as a basis for independent creation were not burdened with a sense of mission. At that time it was unthinkable for Krejcar to want to continue his studies, which was not the same as being impossible. He thus chose a lifestyle that allowed him complete independence. It meant, for instance, that he didn’t have to bother about current trends, but could live in the world around him. That also explains why his work is like movement in extreme situations -  it is both coarse and sentimental, harsh and tender, to a degree that is almost inadmissible in creative activity but possible in normal life. And all the categories, concepts or relations that Krejcar operates with are also derived from that alone. And on the occasions when he has exhibited his works – which only became possible for him after 1989 - their sole criterion has been authenticity.

He first started to create his Cats in 1982. Ever since they have been a feature of his work in various transformations. From the start they were marked by perfection of form and execution and asserted the total independence of the artist. Cats or Pantherii, derive their royal origins from Egyptian or Assyrian hieratic monuments. However they also have their origins in the village or small-town gateposts, which used to be adorned with bestial sentinels made out of stucco, which have now disintegrated into pieces of brick and plaster held together only by the projecting wire armature.

In Krejcar’s Cats, fragments of sentinels of a vanished world have been re-embodied in monumental symbols. But their mystery has been lost; their meanings no longer apply and are now hollow. For the most part the cats are constructed from a perfectly carved transparent grid of symmetrical shapes and the decorative structure is built up with a certain hint of loneliness in opposition to the impressive monumentality. The monumental components of their bodies are sometimes cast in bronze and then given a patina or gilded, and sometimes the grid includes parts of gilt Florentine frames, whose rich decoration offers yet another variation on the emptied symbol.

On one occasion, though, a tattoo appeared on the smooth surface of the cat’s body - consisting of bizarre symbols of the kind that decorate the bodies of the criminals or people on the fringe of society that live alongside Krejcar in his small town. To appreciate the hidden reality of small town life one needs to read Poláček’s The Main Hearing.

The tattoo has another essential meaning, however: The Valdice Cat  was dedicated to “Magor”: Krejcar’s friend, Martin Jirous, who was a political prisoner in Valdice Prison during the period of normalisation. Since the seventies Jirous had also been Krejcar’s strongest link with the underground, which helped form his attitudes. His close ties with the underground served to crystallise his independence as an artist.

The sculptures of the 1980s, in which other themes gradually started to appear, conceal a fundamental ambivalence that marks his entire oeuvre. Krejcar operates with forms that were originally full with meaning. Their loss of meaning is for him a metaphor of their new existence. The lost meaning is replaced by paradoxical symbols. A fortuitous paradox is the name of the place that supplies Krejcar with his themes, namely, a pub named Eden - the original Paradise where people lived before the Biblical Fall. Krejcar also makes deliberate use of religious metaphors in his series of casts of human bodies, starting with St. Vincent in 1990, which went on to become Two-in-One, a mirror portrait reminiscent of a playing-card figure. It was followed by Crucifixion with tattooed thieves either side of the Christ figure, Fallen Angel or The End of Hunting in Bohemia, casts of the torso of a felon from Eden, one of which bears the Hebrew text  Ten Commandments, for instance. All those sculptures and reliefs confirm the ambivalence of the symbols. The bodies of friends and buddies from the fringe of our world are marked with the attributes, signs and symbols of their absurd elevation.

The metaphor of ambivalence also has other forms. The hieratic Cats  that feature throughout Krejcar’s oeuvre are placed on pedestals - glass cubes, the bottom of which is covered in sawdust  and wood shavings. It is admittedly the respectable waste from Krejcar’s sculptural activity, but here the situation is different. The base completes the symbol of the sculpture - it is scattered like cat-litter beneath these one-time regal symbols. This moving hopper of sawdust and shavings can also be interpreted as a miniature landscape. Truly everything is changeable and nothing has a fixed definition.

A woodcarver’s waste: sawdust, shavings, wood chips, acquire another meaning in Krejcar’s work, when they constitute specific versions of landscapes. Here their form is definite and there is no ambivalence about it. After all the wood of tree and a landscape transcend human beings; their existence is original and the symbolism unambiguous. The tree as a symbol of life and the landscape with its definition of infinity simply has to be accepted.

Originally Krejcar stored his waste in  some kind of vitrail, then he started to fill glass containers and layer the waste to create landscapes with a changing silhouette, which in some cases actually copies the real landscapes of his surroundings. Those glass containers with landscapes, sometimes miniaturised and placed in other landscapes of frames, built out of cross-sections of tree-trunks conceal unexpected simplicity and tenderness. They are atribute, returning to the landscape what was ripped out of it; the waste of trees torn out of the landscape is used to create their original condition.

Krejcar also creates his Letters  out of poured sawdust. They are ciphers drawn with a stick, graphite and ash. They recall Novalis’ idea that everything in nature is revealed in signs and ciphers. The extreme expression of that relationship is a glazed column filled with wood waste to become a Monument to Fallen Trees.

Krejcar’s work is clearly being transformed. At the beginning of the nineties, in spite of the onset of freedom, his body casts still retain something of the horror of the previous period. Religious symbolism with its divine and human ambivalence also offered the cruelty of real evil and emptiness. Krejcar returned to that symbolism at the end of the nineties with the intention of ridding it of ambivalent interpretations. His Veraikons, Veronica’s veils, consist of the symbol of the cross in the centre of a sawn-out grid, similar to the structure of Cats. The shape of the Veraikon is a paraphrase of a mask, a skeleton neutrally repeated. The symbol of the cross becomes apparent only when light passes through the mask and the cross casts a shadow. So it looks as if he is unable to rid himself of his perception of the world as ambivalent structures.

The first version of his Landscapes of the Body dates from the mid-eighties. At first it was a symbol of basic human intimacy, an emotional imprint. Ciphers of the body, small signs of human touch, first gave rise to a series of monumental carved reliefs, that dealt with intimacy in sculptural terms. At the end of the nineties, however, they appear as miniature reliefs; they are formed into pairs and gilded. The became icons of intimate tenderness, one of the few sources of assurance in this life.

Not even this area of Krejcar’s work is free of the ambivalence. Hidden places of our bodies, lyrical landscapes of our intimacy, ciphers of letters and also the Veraikon all become an image. To a certain extent the image is alienation from an experience whose original unambiguous meaning offers an image for further interpretation. This is the direction taken by of Krejcar’s most recent metamorphoses - the big “drawings” of quasi-anatomical heads. They have the appearance of sketches, but they are created in Krejcar’s absurd manner. Clippings of fuses from explosives are laid on card and formed into precise shapes, suggestive of faces. They are then ignited and the shape is burnt into the paper, destructively transforming the anatomical suggestion into an involuntary expression.

English seaside churches have empty spaces within their towers. We would see in them an absence of bells, but at night those empty windows fill with light and the churches are transformed into lighthouses. Krejcar is now turning to those sentinels of the night, drawing, designing illusory towers, lighthouses, symbols of points of light in the darkness. It is as if within his vision of an ambivalent world there has appeared something unequivocal to latch onto. But looking back over his oeuvre, isn’t it in fact present in hidden form in all his works? In Landscapes, Landscapes of the Body  or Letters  it is present overtly. At least a silhouette of the original symbol has remained from the hieratic sentinels of former times. Krejcar loads his casts of actual bodies with symbols that contradict physicality. But how otherwise are they to re-acquire meaning, now that our world has moved to the fringes and basic symbols have become an unintelligible memory.

Jan Rous

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Exhibition Parteners
Čermák a Hrachovec s.r.o. Pražská plynárenská a.s. d-plus