Without abandoning poetry - which planted the seed for all his subsequent artistic activity - Jiří Kolář (Protivín, 1914-Prague, 2002) decides to overcome the ban on publishing and the constant censorship his books are subjected to by opting, in the late fifties, for the practice of visual poetry. From that moment he designs and develops new procedures that modernise the avant-garde techniques of collage. Kolář assigns these works names derived from previous creative concepts (rollages, froissages, chiasmages, intercalage or magrittages), whose resulting works are along the lines of the surreal tableau-poème and the poème-objet. As noted by art critic Raoul-Jean Moulin, Kolář stands as "a poet whose metaphors do not act on words, but on the visible". The exhibition features one hundred works made between 1952 and 1994 and the new phase which raises the artistic combination of seeing and reading is tested, using pictures taken from the western pictorial imagery (Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Johannes Vermeer, Diego Velázquez, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Édouard Manet, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse) and emphasising the notion of process in the construction of new relationships between image and meaning.
The hybridisation and artistic semantics that characterise Kolář’s work connects with a poetic avant-garde style (Guillaume Apollinaire’s calligrammes, Dada, the play of poetic analogy in surrealism) and the notion of the surrealist collage (for which a new order in the arrangement of objects and images enables the creation of a new meaning). In this regard Jindrich Styrsky, who is also Czech, should be noted as a precedent. According to Moulin, his poems and collages that have been found are closer to the finished images of Duchamp, as illustrated by Touch breasts - goodbye money (1952) or Chop (1963): "his collages are not paintings, but rather a method for processing and analysing the image that constructs, dismantles and reconstructs the mechanisms of its own lexical and semiological variety and which functions by following a syntax which is often reversible and contradictory."
In the exhibition some of the pieces that make up the project Weekly journal, from 1982 and created in Paris, where he lives since 1980, can be seen. Likewise, his Constellations are present, pieces and objects that are completely covered with cut fragments or torn pages of books, a common note to his collages. The driving force of metaphors and allegories -as in the series Homage to Christian Morgenstern (1965)- Kolář insists on the idea of the poem within the poem (visual and object), showing its modern constructive nature and the irony on which new meanings are forged.
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