Michal Gabriel

Hearts Opener

Nov 23, 2022 — Feb 5, 2023
Opening Tuesday 22. November 2022 18:00

Radek Wohlmuth

  • Despite Ghiberti's brilliant reliefs on the doors of the Florentine Baptistery, landscape as a subject is still so absurd for a sculptor that it almost makes no sense. That makes it all the more challenging. Michal Gabriel (1960) found it through visual thinking about the hybrid format of a sculptural image, which gradually transformed into the form of dioramas - "sculptural postcards". The result is works created without the intervention of human hands. They have been replaced by technology and a unique program—sketches for a scanning change. The new series of 3D views focused on the landscape is also a subtle reflection on the dematerialisation of sculpture.

  • This continued with a thoughtful and time-consuming construction in a virtual computer environment composed of shape clouds made up of millions of points set in infinity. The touch-free realisation took place through 3D printing. The naturalness of the result, however, is still dependent on the physical experience of grasping and interpreting shape and detailed material knowledge, although obsessive and determining sculptural thinking concerning a particular substance has effectively disappeared, and the freedom of dealing with pure form has arrived. The compact mass, from which the specific raw material and its properties disappeared, began to form a universal polygon network spread out into the desired form, in which all the details are connected by triangles delineating subtle emptied surfaces. It is the clash and, at the same time, the balance and smooth continuity of large polygons cubing space with micro-polygons defining subtle, realistic motifs that is one of the aspects that fascinate Michal Gabriel most about this work. The generated sections of the landscape, primarily derived from the central motif, thus grew on the horizon of pure abstraction. The print structures suggest depths in them and subtly enhance the modelling with a contour grid, the scale documenting the figures.

  • The synthetic landscape collapsed into polygons seems artificial in every way, but that cannot be further from the truth. Not only is it anchored in Michal Gabriel's own mythology and resonates with stories and memories from his childhood, but it is also prefigured by natural motifs from forest interiors - trees, mushrooms and, above all, Šumava menhirs with names that have been traditional for generations: the Goddess, the Monk, the Moon and Wind Stones and the Hearts Opener. The intimate dioramas, which can be associated with a kind of spatial album of pilgrim stories of specific people worn out by everyday life, loosely refer to Gabriel's series of small plexiglass boxes from the late 80s and early 90s. These reflected his cumulative experiences of Seven Days through emotive micro-worlds. If they were primarily about personal introspection, Hearts Opener, on the other hand, focuses on an initiation encounter that has the power to change lives. One of them can be experienced by you too…