T E X T S . . .

Dan Merta (text about Kurt Gebauer)


When we enter the garden of the house in which Kurt Gebauer lives, we are compelled to respond to its atmosphere, characterized by the bizarre grotesque ambience typical of memorable exhibitions in Vojan Park, Lesser Town backyards and Holešovice market. Although the ravages of time and the half-time of disintegration are reflected in certain sculptures, their spirit and symbolism retain the same strength.
This very atmosphere determined the inception of the project of an exhibition/installation by the sculptor Kurt Gebauer in the spaces of Prague Castle.
If we want to discuss the sculpture or sculptural views of Kurt Gebauer, we have to follow several lines along which his work developed.
Kurt Gebauer first became known to the general art public with his realizations in the framework of the above-mentioned sculpture events where he presented his idiosyncratic sculptures made from non-classical sculptural materials (fabric, wire, plaster, fibreglass), developing the legacy of New Figuration, Pop Art, Fluxus, and in the 1980s also the ironical postmodern discourse.
At that time he created several spatial realizations in public spaces where he fully employed his feeling for the genius loci of a given location with which he entered into a creative dialogue. Here a tendency prevailing in his art since the 1980s became more apparent, i.e. a strong inclination to conceptual art and installations. And all this with a typical Gebauer wise detachment and the subtext of bizarre, ironic and grotesque elements symptomatic of the phenomenon of the "Czech grotesque".
All this established a basic pattern for the exhibition to be held at Prague Castle. No less an important role here was played by the artist's relationship to the tradition of the Czech state as well as to the state as such (the artist is the president of Kurt Gebauer State), to the period of the Velvet Revolution and the personality of President Václav Havel.
Kurt Gebauer has staged here with the help of his imagination and the genius loei of the Old Royal Castle a kind of play by sculpturally complementing its seemingly "open spaces", embracing them with his now almost abstract sculptural concept which responds to characteristic features of the current situation of man, society and morals; all this stems not from a preacher's position, but from that of an interpreter or a classic of the Czech grotesque. This resulted in an interesting visual concept honouring the genius loci of the given location and entering a mutual relationship with its history, creating a realization in the tradition of sculptural exhibitions at Prague Castle.
The specific character and function of art work is to reflect and depict the subjective relationship of the artist with the surrounding world, thus becoming a seismograph of social conscience with a retrospective historical topicality. One only has to mention that Kurt Gebauer's art has always been such a seismograph.

The Prague Castle Management wishes to thank Kurt Gebauer and his co-workers for preparating and realizing this exhibition.
I would also like to thank my colleagues from the Prague Castle Management, particularly these from the Exhibition Department, for their collaboration in the realization of this project.
The organizers of the exhibition wish to express their grateful thanks for the financial support of this publication provided by the Soros Center for Contemporary Art, and to the companies Buma Prague Co., Energovod, a.s. Prague, Hartl - Stane Masonry Liberec, John & Nosek Ltd. Hořice v Podkrkonoší and Kámen Ostroměř Co. which substantially sponsored the preparation and realization of this exhibition.

Dan Merta, Curator of the Exhibition Programme, May 1995