JOSEF BOLF: HEAVY PLANET
19|12|2014 – 14|2|2015
hunt kastner is pleased to present Josef Bolf’s solo exhibition Heavy Planet, which presents a series of new work including an animated film, paintings, drawings and collages. As a young boy, Bolf loved the sci-fi anthology “Heavy Planet” and he recently gave the same title to his autobiographical text, which then developed into the short animated film (10 min. 32 sec.) of the same name. In this new series of work, Bolf returns to the housing estate of the 1980s, to his own flights and anxieties. He tells of things that he cannot change but that keep coming back on their own. More than ever before, however, we are giving free rein to the fact that an encounter with Bolf’s art is always an encounter with an excerpt from one narrative. The costumes change, but the actors remain the same. They march forward, but in a circle; sticky asphalt beneath their feet, above their heads the starry sky.
– What is Josef Bolf if not a storyteller? And not even so much because every now and then he makes a short film, writes comics or a short story, or helps a writer with his dystopian novel. Basically, all of Bolf’s artistic endeavors unfold within an invisible narrative outline.
– The two extremes of Bolf’s narrative approach are civilism and fantasy. At each stage in his artistic evolution, he has found himself at a different point on the axis between these opposite poles.
– It is essentially always the same story. At its center are loneliness, existential angst, trauma, attempts at escape… A while back, his fantastical zoology receded into the background, and his stories’ actors changed into regular clothing. But this does not necessarily reflect what is playing out in their heads.
– Autobiographicality. What to say about it? For Josef Bolf, it is an entirely fundamental element. Memories and self-reflection. Should we perhaps understand Bolf’s art as a visual diary, no matter how often it is not objective, but imaginative? His narrative is open to fiction, but in one way or another it converges onto the Self.
– Sometimes, it felt like he was talking about universal feelings and experiences. Over time, he has increasingly hinted that this is only be true when he talks about himself.
– If Josef Bolf hadn’t spent part of his life living on a prefabricated-panel housing estate, he may not have become an apostle of the prefab generation’s myth about itself. But he did live there. The connection between his art and life are thus important not only for him but also for his audience. It is reciprocal.
– Bolf uses environment (specifically, situations) and visual tools primarily to evoke emotional states. They may be states of nausea, depression, melancholy, pathos, pain, wonder and awe, but also a sense of harmony and satisfaction from the fact that someone has constructed meaning and story from our own experiences.
– The fact that Bolf finds inspiration in literature is reflected in the exhibition’s name, which comes from the Czech title of a science fiction anthology compiled by Isaac Asimov (published in English as Where Do We Go from Here?), and in his use of an excerpt from Larry Niven’s short story “Neutron Star” at the end of his own autobiographical prose.
– This autobiographical text forms the basis for an animated film with the same title as the exhibition, Heavy Planet. The paintings and drawings were made either in relation to the film or, one might say, within the reach of its gravitational field.
– The exhibition design is the outcome of an intense collaborative effort between Bolf, artist Tomáš Džadoň, and curator Jiří Ptáček. The animated film was made in collaboration with Bohdan Dušek (animation & editing), Freddy Ruppert (music), and Johana Švarcová (sound editing).
– More than ever before, the exhibition aims to offer an encounter with Bolf’s art as a segment of the narrative discussed above.
Jiří Ptáček, 12/2104