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'Whitewashing' by Tomáš Ruller at Pragovka Gallery, Prague

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Tomáš Ruller creates works spanning multiple artistic disciplines. He is usually grouped among those artists known for action art, performance art, and video art, but it would be just too simple to place him in any clearly defined category.

Tomáš Ruller studied the art of traditional sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (AVU) from 1976 to 1982 – at the time, that was the only field of study where artists could do three-dimensional projects. His own independent artworks were far from his field of study, even before he entered the Academy. Tomáš Ruller’s workscan be understood as a mental space-time intervention, in which the artist acts as a medium – be it directly as a participant in his performances/events, or as a person who adjusts the space for the initiation of the event to follow, and develops the potential of the given space.

The perception of space in time is the primary characteristic of, and the connection between, various media which the artist uses to express himself. The concept of the works is complex, but at the same time quite intuitive -- the visitors are required to take an active part, to not only observe, but to experience the works. On the one hand, the themes of the works are very topical, on the other hand (and perhaps more importantly) they represent universally applicable principles of existence, for which placement in time is an unimportant anachronism.

In The White Room Gallery, Tomáš Ruller will present a project consisting of two parts that can be perceived as two independent, yet freely linked exhibitions. The artist describes the first phase, called Whitewashing (16 July – 8 August 2019), as a “post-media co-creative post-art social in(ter)vention, an architectonically shared physicalsculptural graphical penetrating cooperation, of mo(nu)mental realization” , and he describes the technique used as bleaching. Both the description, and the name itself, can be understood both literally and as a metaphor with several metaphoric meanings – the room appears sterile and clean, meditative, but at the same time one can’thelp but feel physical distress; nothingness is followed by density of light, white omnipresence becomes heavy and falls into a physical experience of black spots in front of one’s eyes. The whiteness has many forms, and reaches across the borders of the gallery as an institution, both in relation to the space itself, and to the issues ofauthorship. Visitors are inconspicuously drawn into cooperation on development of the project (which is typical for the artist), and become active co-creators of the work.

The second phase is called Performance Déjà Vu (13 August – 10 September 2019). The post-internet project focuses on the state of mind where it is impossible to tell the difference between that which was already experienced/seen, and present/current events. The exhibition can be perceived as an installation as a whole or as individual artworks, where one finds himself in a timelessness, in which the difference between the present and the past disappears.

The exhibition is accompanied by a rich program which aims to present the broader social-historical context of theartist’s work. Tomáš Ruller has been a resident of Pragovka since Autumn 2017, but hardly anyone knows that his artistic roots have had a connection to the Vysočany area since the late 1970’s, when he visited Čestmír Suška’s studio on Špitálská street (here, for example, was where Confrontation Nr. VI also took place). In 1988, heparticipated in the exhibition 12/15 - Older / Younger in Lidový dům. In 1989 he took part in the Dialogue LosAngeles/ Prague exhibition, performing during its opening, he also participated in that year’s Open DialogueSymposium in the Gong theatre.

During the accompanying events, Tomáš Ruller will present archive documents and video records of individualevents, and will take visitors to the mentioned locations nearby, where these important events related to unofficial artworks took place.

17.7.19 — 10.9.19

Curated by Kateřina Lenzová

Photo by Marcel Rozhoň

Pragovka Gallery

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