Roman Liška’s new body of work is driven by rhythm and composition. We experience this installation not as a series of individual elements, but as a carefully executed whole that allows a complex conversation to emerge about Liška’s central interest, the boundaries of expanded painting. Certainly each panel has an individual character. However collectively they constitute a grammar of stripes: diagonal, horizontal and vertical. There are rules at work here, but they do not stifle moments of spontaneity. Grids are infiltrated by colour and pattern: neon yellow abruptly interrupting toned down hues of ultramarine and black.
This device serves to highlight the predominantly angular and subdued nature of the paintings, the few oppositional panels offering a stark visual foil, an incitement to sensory stimulation. In contrast to the austerity of the stripes, the mesh and metal eyelets provide a layer of narrative, emphasising the tension between covering up and revealing. In so doing they encourage the viewer to make associations to the human body. A subtle eroticism wafts from the semi-translucent mesh, just revealing the stretchers behind. The stretchers themselves are covered, or perhaps ‘clothed’, with a dazzle pattern that is one of the recurring haptic elements in the artist’s material decisions.
The metal eyelets function as a compositional tactic, introducing playfulness and variation into the otherwise rigid system of geometrical arrangements, as well as acting like peepholes into and under the works’ skin. The violent gesture of puncturing the membrane indicates an acknowledgement of the paintings’ object-hood, not merely considered a surface in an abstracted two-dimensional sense, but rather treated as a body that exists in space and that should be experienced as such. The effort to deconstruct the conception of painting as paint on canvas over a stretcher, and to reconfigure it in the manifold ways evident in this body of work, results in a disruption of familiar modes of viewing. By re-defining and expanding the parameters for what can be thought of as painting, Liška’s works contribute to an ongoing investigation of the genre.
Text by: Norma Salik
25 APRIL - 14 JUNE 2014