PARALLEL HISTORY / 2013 | BLANKA KIRCHNER
Martin Kuriš (1973, Kutná Hora) is author who appeared on the Ústí scene after graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. His work is directly linked to the place in which he lives – the village of Příbram near Děčín. The landscape and people in his paintings are motifs that he comes across every day and he has a close affinity with both of them. His pictures capture the landscape, quirky characters and their stories, i.e. subjects which surround him every day and to which he is intimately close.
In his work, Kuriš reflects on the bizarreness of the landscape of the former Sudetenland, which changed so radically after the expulsion of the original German inhabitants. The cultivated rural landscape feared for centuries, dotted with hop fields and orchards, was gradually swallowed up by free-growing trees for sixty years after the war.
More general features of Kuriš’s work include what is essentially a realistic yet naive treatment of his theme or elements of surrealism, apparent in his combinations of dream motifs and specific landscape subjects. The pictures, the colour scheme of which changes as the artist progresses and develops, are painted in tempera and oils. While his earliest works are more expressive, with a more limited range of colours, over time his tones have become less intense and taken on the look of subtle glazes. These pastel colours are particularly evident in his pictures dating from 1997 to 2002.
Since 2002 Martin Kuriš has made his pictures part of cycles that illustrate stories, the fairy-tale nature of which corresponds to the magical reality that characterises his earlier works. He also accompanies his extensive sets of images with texts and publishes them in book form (Don Giovanni, Magda, Baryk and Navarana). The author has then reworked some of them, Baryk (2008) and Navarana (2010), for the puppet theatre. This has given his work another dimension – space and time. He worked on the puppet performance of Baryk together with the Buchty a loutky (Cakes and Puppets) theatre group, and then prepared a staging of Navarana with students of the Faculty of Art and Design and the Pedagogical Faculty of Jan Evangelista Purkyně University and presented it at the Drama Studio in Ústí nad Labem.
…in no way does Martin Kuriš see stylistic distinctiveness as a means of attracting attention. Juxtaposition, so close to the postmodern style, finds a peculiar yet fresh use here. The author unconventionally combines traditional forms with the aim of presenting an ironic look at what are otherwise serious topics. And in Kuriš’s case we can go even further. That juxtaposition also applies to the individual figures that appear within the image composition, always set in a panoramic landscape that changes with the individual seasons. Nature itself, however, appears as some kind of familiar yet scarcely comprehensible reality that runs parallel to the human story. The author appears in a certain position as the narrator, who on the one hand draws attention to the imaginary nature of the characters and their actions, while at another instant (or “story”) he presents the same characters as forming part of a different history. The effort to achieve total visual completeness is a reference to the abilities that photography undoubtedly has in this respect. However, the “stories” that play out for us in Kuriš’s pictures are seen in greater completeness than they could ever be seen in real life.
Vlastimil Tetiva, 1999