laminate, steel, aluminium, car paint, 230 x 510 x 500 cm
Lukáš Rittstein (born 1973) emerged onto the Czech art scene in the late 1990s. His objects, which straddle the line between traditional sculpture and conceptual site-specific object, have since the beginning managed to convincingly combine the unease of the post-industrial age at the ‘end of history’ with a message of affirmative humanism. In a wholly natural way, his works combine a caustically ironic vision with the kind of free and imaginative curiosity with which children, unburdened by ‘societal rules’, see the world. Rittstein has thus adopted a highly specific form of expression somewhere between tender nostalgia and raw surreality. A fundamental element in his work is the dynamic metamorphosis of the object in question, thanks to which the viewer’s imagination goes back and forth between objective reality and fluid dream. A textbook example of this typical approach is Rittstein’s Bird of Paradise (2018), which GASK’s curators recently placed in the upper part of the gardens behind the Jesuit College as part of the gallery’s Open-air GASK project. Lukáš Rittstein and his partner in art and life Barbora Šlapetová have consistently enriched Czech art by exploring the fundamental essence of our humanity. In so doing, they identify points of intersection between ancient civilisation-based memory and the technology-driven present day. Rittstein has formulated a visual language commensurate to today’s world without rejecting positive ties to artistic expressions from earlier periods in history. He has managed to do so by never losing sight of the ‘spiritual oneness’ of human thought and emotion. It is worth mentioning that Lukáš Rittstein was the 1999 recipient of the Jindřich Chalupecký Award and that in 2005 he and Barbora Šlapetová earned the Magnesia Litera award in the category of ‘discovery of the year’ for their book Why the Night Is Black: Interviews with the Natural Peoples of Papua New Guinea. Today, he heads Sculpture Studio I at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. His work Neverending Friend 3 (2015) is featured in the long-term exhibition Avenue of Saints in GASK’s ground-floor hallway.