Sanctuary for Each of Them

Galerie mladých 15 06 — 23 07
opening — 14 6 2022

Dominika Dobiášová’s paintings and objects are reminiscent of fairy tales, fantasies and sometimes even dystopian sci-fi. They are emotional, touching and tell a story of love and closeness that takes place not only between people but also things and phantoms. At the same time, there is tension ingrained in them, a kind of an underlying ominous tone, coupled with the expectation of vague danger, perhaps “just” disappointment. Although the author projects strong emotions into the depicted people and objects, she does not reveal what causes them, they are not definite, legible, and transparent. Thus, the omniscient viewer who safely assumes motives and connections is not present here; one must intuitively connect them. The attempt to do so happens spontaneously, because the paintings are aesthetically compelling, with a strong expressiveness and uncanniness. (Even now, writing about them at home, I can see them vividly “before my eyes,” as they have managed to become intensely etched in my memory.) What then does “Sanctuary for Each of Them” mean? Most likely a place where every person has an important role, light and shadow, phantoms, and architectural details. 

A place where everyone has equal importance, where they all deserve our equal attention. A place, bowl, cutlery, gothic window, partnership. Alongside the fairytale or dreamlike poetics, there is perhaps somewhat unexpected social-critical dimension of Dominika’s approach, which does not shout, is subtle, but nevertheless urgent. The composition is that of a theatrical or cinematic mise-en-scene, has thoroughly thought-out pictorial plans with expressively stylized characters, where the actors can be people just as phantoms and things. The scenes set in a distorted space with dramatic lighting have an eclectic atmosphere: they are reminiscent of Pre-Raphaelites, Surrealists, Art Nouveau and Romanticism. It is not a mechanical historicizing mix, however, the author’s handwriting is too authentic for that, and her approach is too socially engaged (focusing, for example, on the currently discussed topic of privilege).

What is more, Dominika’s work is media subversive: it represents a specific example of a painting being freed from its usual formal structures. The artist brings attention to the edge of the painting be it by “unbuckling” it from its blind frame or by putting it in a handmade frame inspired by the aesthetic character of the painting. The author also admittingly cuts and sews together painting canvases, which in turn draws attention to the painting base and the textile material of the canvas. She transforms her paintings into spatial objects: into anthropomorphized glassware, into furniture, to create the opposite direction from object to surface, whether in the form of drawing shadows on the gallery wall or a carpet with distinctive cut-outs. This media unboundedness also includes some involved details such as picture clips. Nothing is obvious, every reality has a bit of magic and mysticism, everything is thought out to the smallest detail. Even in this, or rather especially in this, lies Dominika’s exceptional perceptiveness. 

The glass objects were created in collaboration with Karlov glassworks; Jan Korčián participated in the production of the metal elements; Jan Lidmila worked on the hand-carved frames; the lighting design was created in collaboration with Jonáš Garaj, and the installation with Jakub Mynář and Jan Bražina.