Luděk Rathouský | The mirror of eternal abandonment


The ideological essence of the installation, created on the site during the fortnightly residence, is the situation that may have taken place during 1665 in Amsterdam. Here the emigrant Jan Amos Comenius met the old and abandoned, impoverished Rembrandt van Rijn. The idea of ​​such a situation is the driving emotion, with which Rathouský created a monumental painting and a subsequent installation lit by candles. As part of the local collaboration, he turned to friends around the Caesur gallery with a request: to send him their first supposed memory. From these sources, the author created a series of drawings on handmade paper, where fragments of respondents’ memories are ephemerally present.

Aging, disillusionment, hopelessness, abandonment, home loss. The emigration of intellectuals from Central and Eastern Europe is a phenomenon that has lasted for over three centuries and the possibility that it will recur is still relevant. “My sense of a possible conflict in eastern Ukraine is linked to the anxiety of a possible invasion by Putin’s Russia, which may try to disrupt Europe and launch a re-satelliteization of (not only) my country,“ the author wrote in his annotation to the future residence in Middelburg at the end of February. His fears soon came true.

Luděk Rathouský (* 1975) is a Czech artist based in Prague and Brno. In addition to his author’s artwork, he is also a founding member of the significant art group Rafani, which intervenes in many artistic genres. They won an award at the Jihlava Documentary Film Festival for their film debut 31 Ends 31 Beginnings. In Brno, he works mainly as a professor and head of the painting studio at the Faculty of Fine Arts. He is also a curator, a husband and a happy father, as he likes to add.

Since 2010, Rathouský has been focusing on finding of a specific painting language, based on panel painting of the 13th and 14th centuries. He developed the technique of false punching, where the metal layer is applied using ordinary room rollers and sheet metal. Controlled coincidence, metallized structures and careful filling of gaps with pastel or high-layer paint create an expressive impression. However, it is a very time-consuming process referring to the meditative aspects of the medieval approach to matter.

It is the roller pattern that has been present in Rathouse’s painting for two decades that has become, so to speak, his distinguishing feature. However, it does not use wall decorative ornaments as a sign but mainly as a narrative element, where the decorative motif functions not only as a visual filling of the surface, but also as a structural expression of hidden content, an ornamental narrative abbreviation that seems to replace the absence of a living element. Simple motifs, transferred from their interior role, acquire aesthetic independence and distinctive meanings. Rathouský plays a sneaky Blind man’s buff with a viewer, where meaning becomes ornament and ornament becomes meaning.