Vanitas: Martin Gerboc interprets Francisco Goya’s Los Desastres de la Guerra. Maľby / Paintings 2010–2012

termín: 2012/03/02 - 2012/04/21
instituce: Zahorian & Co. Gallery
typ výstavy: autorská


Author: Martin Gerboc
Curator: Otto M. Urban
2 March – 11 April 2012

Martin Gerboc´s works composing the cycle entitled Vanitas clearly defy the traditional understanding of a painted picture in the context of fine arts. His pictures are closer to musical collages and remixes than to classically composed paintings. Individual elements of works are layered one over another, they disturb and complement each other, they grow out of the picture surface like reliefs, just to plunge into it again and gradually fade out. Consequently, Gerboc is not merely a painter: his method is more complex, it includes other possibilities of artistic expression as well, he examines the limits of a word and a thought, just to, basically, get to the feelings of void and of impossibility to express what was at the origin of ideas and what vanished even before having acquired any more general meaning or form.

Creation as a neverending duel with the feeling of silence, vanity, and void. With limitless loneliness and inability to get at least a little closer to the wanted. Vanitas has been appearing and mingling, as a leitmotiv, (with)in all Gerboc´s work so far. It is a sort of appalling muse forcing an artist to create, to work over and over again on vain and in advance failed attempts to depict an existential dimension of human being.

What has fundamentally been mingling with Gerboc´s work are relations with and allusions to the art history. Despite the existence of inexhaustible number of references to the iconic as well as forgotten works of history of art in contemporary fine arts, Gerboc´s creative gesture is powerful enough not only to refer to the history, but also to cope with it, to re-paint the classical works, to cut and destroy them in order to bring them to life in another, somehow spiritual level. Gerboc´s work characteristically reveals the contrast between impulsive, feverish painting and clear, precise intellectual concept. A picture as a whole is thoroughly thought over, its author does not need tens of preparatory drawings or sketches, he paints directly, firmly, uncompromisingly.

Thus artistic creation becomes a tool of more general strategy as it naturally enters and moves within extra-artistic fields, too. A work of art is consciously (self-)hurtful, the author himself is at times even shocked and terrified by the pictures he has created. Where is the limit of the depictable, and what is already beyond this limit? Death, pain, humiliation can bring pleasure as well, they can be highly aestheticized and majestic. Is there then any limit at all, which cannot be transgressed, or which cannot even be approached? Such questions seem to be, when focusing on Martin Gerboc´s work, unimportant and useless. The point is not to move the limit somewhere else, but exactly and precisely to move on the limit itself. Paradoxically, it is the movement at one place, conscious remaining in the dangerous zone of loneliness and fear. Nevertheless, Gerboc does not let himself be tied down by his fear.

In his latest pictures, he turns to Francisco Goya, a Spanish painter to whose work fine arts have remarkably responded in the last decades. Gerboc approaches Jake and Dinos Chapmans, as all three artists have found their main inspiration in Goya´s cycle The Disasters of War. Moreover, Martin Gerboc has reached his maximum in the reduction of colour, creating solely black and white pictures. Motives of Goya´s plates are graphically transferred and almost completely covered with other layers of pictures and symbols referring clearly to older Gerboc´s works. Similarly to Goya, Gerboc does not aestheticize horror for its own sake; layering of particular motives results in variety and tension of their meanings and contexts. Combining motives of Napoleonic wars and concentration camps with references to fetishist s/m pornography and death in general leads to noticeably compact expression. In these pictures, Gerboc has joined all his important themes into one solid and forceful whole. The primary feeling is that of horror which almost does not allow one to look at the picture in one go. A viewer must look away to recover from the first strikes of horror and disgust, in order to come back to the works, to read individual motives gradually, together with stylized lines from Charles Baudelaire´s poems, to decipher various allusions and relations. It only is afterwards that a viewer is able to perceive a work as a whole, and to reveal its unexpected meanings, to synthetize the seen.

Gerboc´s vision of the world is mercilessly critical, ruthless, and cruelly cynical. The scenes from his pictures are seemingly foreign, they do not belong, they are everybody´s and nobody´s nightmares, they are unseen pictures of the unseen. In the proper sense of the word, Gerboc´s pictures are not, they do not exist; they are thought ideas and visions which are denied before being finished, before the oils and acrylics go dry on the canvas.