5/10 — 5/11/2017
The photographs of Marcel Stecker are remarkable in their experimental ambiguity, and yet they are essentially inspired by photographic tradition. In Stecker’s work, a purely photographic and photogenic approach conditioned by technical and aesthetic quality goes hand in hand with extended forms of classical painting. He works exclusively in series – or, more precisely, in fixed structures whose final form usually involves an exhibition or publication. These series are created over a relatively long period of time during which he fulfils his obsession for repetition, for finding nuances, or for combining the seemingly incompatible.
For instance, his recently exhibited series Land of People (Galerie Fiducia, Ostrava, 2017) at first glance communicates through a purity of genre, truthful depiction, and an inner view. It feels like the diary of a passionate traveler recording his landscape, including all the monumental or overlooked elements that can be felt by their mythical, transcendental energy. But Stecker is capable of perceiving every specific place as human fate or as the tale of human creation, including its perfection and finiteness. In a series of black-and-white still-lifes (…Josef Sudek Studio, 2011), the space for the action is surprisingly limited to a small plate in a photographic studio and to several worthless pieces of packaging material. Truthful depiction is called into question by the very ordinary decision to emphasize the camera’s gaze, which is the absolute opposite of the human eye. The hierarchy of space, depth, and surface collapses, and the ability to see is suppressed in favor of symbolism and mannerist imagination. In other series, such as the paper collage Tadzio (2014), the photographic image becomes a kind of doppelgänger, an inspirational spirit, or an exalted echo of other artistic approaches.
The current exhibition at Galerie 35m2 is an attempt at bringing together all these earlier approaches. The title evokes a specific place or figure (perhaps an archeologist), a dead civilization and its culture that offer new impulses and ideas. A Dream of Troy is Stecker’s most experimental undertaking to date, in which the photographs play an important role as an omnipresent contrast. There is a strong sense of tension between realism and abstraction, faithful representation and unsettling illusion, documentary shots and fictional arrangements, or the reproduction of other works of art and his own highly original stylization. Form and genre are highly diverse, sometimes even antithetical, but in the end they complement one another in a veiled unity. In addition, it is always a highly personal view that reflects Stecker’s inner world – a world that is resistant to chance or deconstruction.
curated by Michal Pěchouček