Ondřej Basjuk

Unreal Ruin

Sep 16, 2022 — Nov 14, 2022
Opening Thursday 15. September 2022 18:00

Michal Stolárik

  • Luminously underexposed monochromatic worlds emerge from unfamiliar environments. Movement in them is minimal, breath held, and time stands still. The sound is probably turned off, or no one is talking. We find ourselves in a time-space vacuum anchored by an orthogonal coordinate system in which the present shakes hands with the future and high-fives with the past. A fleeting glance suggests black and white, eye-pleasing and romanticizing painterly compositions whose rigid ultramarine accents break up the color scheme. As the gaze focuses, logic slowly fades, and the illusion of life is replaced by an anxious and sobering sense of preserved scenery. The boundary between fact and fiction is semi-permeable, and virtual reality flows confidently into the physical world.

  • In the contemporary work of the Czech visual artist Ondřej Basjuk (1983, Domažlice), we observe an inclination towards painting with overlaps into objects and spatial installations strongly marked by the painterly experience. Basjuk creates surreal compositions made of appropriated motifs from art history, iconography, and various cultural references, which he combines with excerpts from his inner world and stories from his immediate surroundings. He consciously works with erasure, overlapping, destruction, and reconstruction principles, linking them in imaginary visual collages.

  • He depicts remnants of architectural elements, interiors, or untamed nature in atypical landscapes influenced by the aesthetics of digital culture. Strong visual motifs dominate the images - organic rocks, caves, stones or ruins, concrete remains, and raw materials. The symbolism of the world's end, the eternity of time, and layers of historical deposits are intertwined with painterly studies of materials and structures. He does not omit figures from his compositions but places them in the background and depicts them in reduced scales as if they were mere puppets of the author's created world. He communicates direct human action mainly through the consequences of their economic, social, colonial, and political games.

  • The exhibition project Unreal Ruin (2022), created for the Karpuchina Gallery space, presents a selection of Basjuk's contemporary paintings, complemented by spatial objects and miniature dioramas that further develop the atmosphere and narratives of the current series. The artist cultivates the ambivalent nature of the works, created by a combination of clearly legible scenes and illogical surrealistic twists through significant motifs of ruins and relics. These are preserved on imaginary islands levitating in a post-apocalyptic vision influenced by the aesthetics of computer game user environments or 3D modelling software.

  • Basjuk is naturally interested in questions about the end of the world, human existence, and what will be left behind. The depicted remnants of humanity, surrounded by wilderness, are reminiscent of the return of romanticism viewed through contemporary digital culture's black and white filter. The illusion of natural landscapes is transformed into modelled still lives juxtaposed against geometric patterns of coordinate systems, which have also influenced the formal actualization of the canvas shapes. (Un)real worlds are created by the repetition of abstract forms, which contrast with illusory painter volumes or geometric patterns used to build spatial illusions and perspectival shortcuts.

  • Considering contemporary war conflicts, the motifs of devastated landscapes, car or helicopter wrecks, abandoned ruins, or fallen plaster, together with the gloomy palette and depopulated spaces, can be read much more sensitively and suggestively. Basjuk is aware of the current political situation but focuses on other themes. He is much closer to genres such as anti-utopia, science fiction, or speculative fiction than to critiquing political-social relations. A more attentive eye also cannot miss the substantial charge of irony, which the author camouflages with the aesthetic side of paintings and subtle visual glitches. Thus, ruins in Basjuk's work do not symbolize just time, conflicts, or the end of civilization. Architectural remains are converted into image-forming objects, become optical illusions, and, in the style of the internet phenomenon Faces in Places, anthropomorphize and take the form of absurd typography. The author also develops the principles mentioned above in the new dioramas, accelerating the blurring of the boundary between reality and fiction.

  • Ondřej Basjuk (1983, Domažlice) lives and works in Prague. From 2006 to 2012, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague in the Studio of Graphic Arts II under the lead of Professor Vladimír Kokola. From 2002 to 2007, he studied at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, where he gradually passed through the study of book culture design and media and didactic illustration. In 2013 he won 2nd place in the Critics' Prize for Young Painting. He has had solo exhibitions in galleries such as Galerie Klatovy / Klenová: Galerie U Bílého jednorožce, Galerie U Betlémské kaple, Prague, Galerie Petr Novotný, Prague, Fait Gallery Preview, Brno, Galerie 35M2, Prague, etc. In 2021 his work Lapis was sold in Sothebyʼs 20th Century Art: A Different Perspective 2021.