Berlin ~ Moeller Fine Art ~ SOVÁK: Themes and Variations

Themes and Variations
May 2 – June 28, 2014
Moeller Fine Art, Tempelhofer Ufer 11, D-10963 Berlin
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Interview with: Stephanie Moeller,
curator: Stephanie Moeller,
exhibited artist: Pravoslav Sovak.

Pravoslav Sovák’s solo presentation at the gallery Moeller Fine Art Berlin showcases 35 drawings, collages and etchings created between 1968 and 2013. The exhibition is divided into three thematic circles: Museum Sheets, Beauties, and Desert Sheets. In this video, Stephanie Moeller explains her relationship to Mr Sovák’s work, focusing closer on the series Museum Sheets.

Desert Sheets were conceived during the artist’s regular journeys to the US. A series of works on paper depict landscapes as a symbol of nature, as a symbol of the authentic living. Even though the deserts have very little human interference apart from roads, nuclear testing sites etc. they are spaces which are not inhabited, they are not regularly cultivated, in this respect are not what we call a cultured landscape.

Pravoslav Sovák was born and worked in the communist Czechoslovakia until 1968. He emigrated to Germany on the 21st of August 1968, which was the exact day of the Soviet invasion, and later he settled in Switzerland. His transition between cultural codes of the East and West brought him a deeper understanding of the system as a whole. In many respects his ability to compare, as well as a developed sensibility, enabled his overview of political systems and different structures of society and this facilitated his personal achievement. I would like to suggest that this is the most evident in his thematic work about American deserts in Arizona.

What actually is a desert if not a natural entity? Having had no use for humans, it is left untouched. Infinity, particular circularity and meditation, have been symbolic codes attached to the desert. For Sovák it signifies the opposite of temptation, which we experience in different social systems and cultures. This particular quality can be noticed especially if we are overwhelmed by powerful historical moments. Ulrike Lorenz summarises this in her encomium ‘Topographies of Yearning’ which was published in the Sovák’s monograph Themes &Variations under the framework of an eponymous exhibition: „Sovak’s deserts and vast expanses are topographies of yearning. In the vortext of seeing, the viewer becomes one with the object he’s looking at, but his yearning is never satisfied.“ The show runs until June 28, 2014.

The exhibition was organized as part of the tenth anniversary of Gallery Weekend Berlin, which strategically promotes the exhibition activities of local galleries. Almost all galleries stayed open past their usual opening times. Over sixty artists showed at Gallery Weekend Berlin, including Julian Opie, Zofia Kulik, Gordon Matta-Clark, Liam Gillick and Wolfgang Laib among others.

Pravoslav Sovák was born in 1926 in Vysoké Mýto, Bohemia. After graduating from the School of Ceramics, Bechyně and then from the Philosophical Faculty of Charles University, Prague, he worked as an assistant professor at Palacký University, Olomouc. Sovak received his art education at the Academy of Applied Arts, Prague. He has been living in Switzerland since 1968. In 1975 he was appointed professor and the head of department of Free Graphic Arts at the Cologne School of Art and Design. He was selected for the 36th Biennale di Venezia.

Interview produced by František Zachoval.
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