Ondřej Přibyl – Models & Constants

Vernissage 10.01.2024 18:00
Curator Petr Vaňous

Experimental artist Ondřej Přibyl (1978) uses the photographic medium in contradiction with its primary function, meaning utility. Instead of taking advantage of the medium’s reproductive function, he works with the uniqueness of its immediate pictorial constitution. His photo-journeys, whatever they may be, allow him to work with imprints of objective states. In fact, he uses imprints and traces in order to evoke and establish models and model situations that explore and address the relationship to objectness. Images of things and our perception of them are trapped in the canon of how they are depicted. Hidden within a frontal or lateral view are latent conventions of representation. Even the choice of which objects are removed from the infinite field of potential attention and placed in front of the camera lens says much about the original level of Přibyl’s sensitivity towards what presents itself as objectness and what is depicted, almost inappropriately, from another, opposite, unfamiliar, or forgotten angle.

Any act of seeing includes a rational interpretation of the seen. The observed object – an object subjected to the process of examination and inspection (motor intention) – finds itself within a subset of sensory perception and rational evaluation. The core of the matter tends to be hidden from view. The gaze slides across the surface and its curves like a “physical act.” Every object can be perceived as its “likeness,” and we can establish a conventional relationship with it, appropriate it through contours, volume, and surface, or draw it into the order of the “known world.” But if the gaze deviates from its established positions, then we see the back side of the image – an area that arouses fundamental questions relating to how and what we actually, truly see and perceive. The result is a moment of shock as we are alienated from the familiar and “mentally ingrained.”

An object that has been removed from its natural context ceases to be a “cultural object.” The artist has liberated its “pictorial trace” (imprint) – and not just “physically,” for it has also been unbound from any more closely definable intentionality. This weakens our ability to read the “message” of the artifact as an “embodiment of meaning.” But the thing that has been truly and primarily weakened is the level of “social intention,” while, on the other hand, a space has opened up for motor intention and for the general potential of perception as such, meaning affordance.

All of the objects that Přibyl places at the center of our attention possess some dominantly oriented function or movement, meaning that this function or movement are the basic “production” characteristics that the object has retained as an integral part of its constitution and surface treatment (funnel, sieve, tub, bushing, radar, chimney, etc.). In fact, these motor determinations, which the objects retain even after having been “consumed,” unbound from the world of the familiar, the useful, the functional, and generally from the world of rational existence, reveal themselves to be something alien or alienated, stripped of clear sense and meaning. Přibyl’s conceptual game involving scalar and technological “derivatives” of original images further increases our skepticism regarding the knowability of what we see and work instead with ambiguous mystification and mimicry (e.g., Dryouts / Foam).

Through model situations, the logic of objects and objective states reveals the outlines of certain constants whose alien nature would appear to be impenetrable and thus unacceptable for our perception. This is one reason why, when talking about his work, Přibyl refers to the hidden resonances of eschatology or the apocalypse, which would appear to be present as a warning not just in all objects and their imprints (traces) but in the very process of perception itself, which is enveloped, broken apart, and disassembled like a moiré pattern by the flip side of what we call “phenomena,” whose crystal-clear permeability is problematized, complicated, and obscured. In the art of Ondřej Přibyl, the beautiful surfaces of strange things hide unfamiliar, unsettling worlds. Or, conversely, alien and confounding worlds present the human perception with objects that put on a seemingly friendly, kind, and welcoming face.

– Petr Vaňous