Paintings by Frantisek Guldan seem to resist any serious reflection and refuse to be bridled by aesthetic categories, judgements or evaluations. Guldan appears to be constantly playing in his pictures, particularly those dated from the patinated assemblage period (the technique he developed), curious to find what will come out from under his hands. As if this were not creative process (a tortuous and unsettling process of seeking adequate artistic expression for a preconceived meaning that wants to be communicated to the viewer and shared with him) but just some sort of play, searching for material and forms that more or less spontaneously combined together always "gives" us something - something artistically interesting and socially communicated.
"Pictures, when they are finished, live their own lives, many even experience further adventures, " says Frantisek Guldan. "For the author the act of creation is the most important. It is followed by the reaction of the perceiver, and everybody perceives the picture in a different way, which is great satisfaction and fun. Afterwards arrives the archive, gallery, or new owner," concludes Guldan.
Frantisek Guldan was born in 1953 in Nitra. He graduated from the technical college of civil engineering. After two years in the compulsory military service, he started working as a designer at the municipal construction company in Nitra and Bratislava. From January to June 1990 he was the director of the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava and until 1991 he was the head of its technical section. Since 1974 he has been painting, later creating work ranging from sculptures to installations. Since 1974 he have had roughly 40 exhibitions.
As a foundation for his painting Guldan uses a layer of white latex on different kind of material such as wood, board and paper. He never buys supplies in the art supplies stores but uses recycled pieces of wood, old billboards and canvas blinds. One of the biggest sources of old billboards was the Center of Czechoslovak-Soviet Friendship, which became the property of the Slovak National Gallery after 1989. In some of his abstract paintings you could see bits and pieces from the billboards incorporated in his painting (Man from Taiga, Party Congress in Kyrgyzstan).
Once the latex is completely dry, Guldan creates the assemblage and paints it over with oil paint containing turpentine. When the painting is still wet he uses a match to set it on fire. This is when the magic happens. Guldan decides how "burnt" he wants the painting (in some paintings you can see the singed edges and holes), he watches then oil paint "melt and fuse" and stop the process when he is satisfied with the result. Sometimes he lets only a part of the picture patinated.
It makes no sense to tell the viewer what he is supposed to see or think - it makes no sense to offer him artistic, social or psychoanalytical interpretations because Guldan's pictures will either draw you into them and you will be able to find the answer to the questions that the pictures ask or you will be enraged and annoyed: "What on Earth do people see in this picture!" But exactly because of the fact that arouses either your interest or your aversion but never leaves you indifferent, Guldan belongs fully to the word of art of this century.
(By Marian Bednar and others.)
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