Phenomenon Roučka

Pavel Roučka

Saarländische Galerie, Berlin 5/2/2010 – 4/4/2010

Pavel Roučka is that rare artist whose work has long continued to increase in expressiveness and monumentality. Although he originally emerged from the New Figuration, he gradually broke free of diverse influences in order to achieve his own unmistakable form of expression. He moves along the margins of abstraction, but his paintings always possess human traces. The character of the figures is captured using simple, basic shapes that are always based on a knowledge of reality and thus retain their vitality. He previously worked with expressive colors, but today often covers them with subdued colors until only fragments remain. In his paintings, spaces permeate one another. He emphasizes depth using various tools of expression, and works ever more intensively with light. But content is important as well, and Roučka’s paintings combine a diverse range of stories and situations. An important element are the characteristic movements that, in various iterations, constantly make it into his drawings and paintings.

After 2001, Roučka began to work with industrial panels, exchanging his brush for a saw, metal cutter, and power drill with which he leaves his mark on the large, immaculate and impersonal surface. He installs his paintings in the middle of the room because they make a different impression from each side. In this way, the paintings are joined ever more distinctively with the chosen setting. Sometimes, Roučka also makes use of unusual materials. For instance, he works with the texture of cement, which sometimes even dominates the painting, from which all color disappears.

Pavel Roučka creates his most distinctive works when he limits his choice of expressive tools to the utmost, when he tones down the color scale, or when only dominant accents remain. When the figure is reduced to the barest traces and all that remains are something like gestures. The force of his painting rests in the concentration of texture, shape, tone. At the same time, however, the figure never disappears completely; instead, it constantly rejuvenates his style while providing a connection to reality. Lines have always been an important element in Roučka’s work. It is here that the later paintings are born. Basically, they become a diary for recording ideas, impressions, and feelings that at any time in the future can find expression in his paintings. The lines are often very subtle and fragile. They are fragments of reality and information about the environment we live in. They become touches by which the artist tries to understand and give shape to various events that go on in nature and society. Roučka makes frequent use of recycled cardboard and sometimes tears shapes from his older drawings. In fact, this is when the diverse levels of meaning and time in which the drawings are made come together. The result is a sense of tension between the different phases of his constantly changing view of the world. The paintings evolve ambiguously. Sometimes, they emerge very spontaneously, naturally, all at once. They reflect a range of moments and the felicitous culmination of effort (and often also of long searching). Roučka always works systematically, leaving nothing to chance. Sometimes he paints over his works again and again, looking for new possibilities of expression. He tries to exhaust each subject to the utmost and only then abandons it for good – for him, it is now in the past. His path is not simple or clear, and sometimes requires him to return and reevaluate. Rationality and emotion are in equilibrium. Traditional tools alternate or are complemented by new approaches. In fact, Roučka has made several important discoveries in recent years, finding unusual forms of expression for himself. He has begun to use industrial panels, which he shapes using industrial methods. As a result, he creates a contrast between the purity of the surface and the shapes that he cuts into it, thus combining various planes and spaces. The purity of the virgin surface merges with the various tools’ rough action. The result is a tension between austere minimalist sensibility and expressive action, between traditional methods and the courage to apply unusual or even untested approaches. Sometimes, the inspiration comes randomly, organically – for instance, through the combination of painting with “bricklaying” methods when he makes use of possibilities of cement texture. These approaches also cause a change in style in line with the chosen material.

Jiří Machalický

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