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Richard Loskot. Open system Eng

Richard Loskot
Open System

Trento (I), Galleria Boccanera
November 2012 ― January 2013

Life is unlocked
Daniele Capra

A Question of Adjectives
“Open” and “closed” are two contrasting expressions usually used to highlight states and situations in which a judgement is implicit on the part of the user. To “have an open mind”, for example, usually means to have a sensitive and curious approach to novelties and events and describes those who have been attracted by the possibility of questioning their own conventions/convictions. On the other hand, we are used to call people “closed” if they are basically uninterested in what happens outside their own world: if, that is, individuals are not very curious about, or uninterested in, discussing, their own conventions/convictions.
If we exclude those cases where “closed” means “protected” or “concluded” ( as well as the cases of sectarian, technical, and slang variants of language), in Indo-European languages there are no uses in which the adjective has a positive sense; it does not, in other words, express a value judgement that is different from what we expect culturally (Italian speakers should compare the note under the heading “chiuso” in the Dizionario etimologico della lingua italiana, edited by M. Cortelazzo and M. Zolli, Bologna, Zanichelli, 1999). In other words, what anthropologically underlies our linguistic system is that the concept of openness is a desirable value, one to be aimed for, and that the notion of closure, on the contrary, is culturally – and, all things considered, from an economic and political point of view too – less remunerative.
So it is not a simplistic and creaking mythology that makes us consider the value of openness to be desirable, but an anthropological and philosophical inclination that numbers among its modern roots some of the theories elaborated during the Age of Enlightenment, the idea of democracy itself, and the concept of the other as the bearer of novelty and new visions of the world.

Open System
In systems theory, a system is open if it interacts with the environment, in other words if the input or the effects of the processes that occur within it are conditioned by the action of the outside environment. Basically, an open system does not act in isolation, apart  from interactions with external variables (as would happen with a Leibnitz-like impregnable monad), but instead it is subject to the continual effects of the context, to the constant exchange with everything that surrounds it. The input/output dynamics are, then, characterized by a greater complexity because the external variability is such as to influence the system itself.

This is the condition we see in many installations by Richard Loskot which frequently result from an analysis of the interactions between the environment, natural light, radio waves, and electronic devices in general. So the variables that make up the work are not only those put into play by the apparatuses that it is physically constituted from, but there are also constant relationships with the context which give the work’s state further possibilities. For example, the presence of greater or less light, the presence of radio waves produced by transmitters or by nearby mobile phones, make the installation a system that adapts itself to the changes in the surroundings. If we push such characteristics to their extreme, we can say that, in regard to the context, a work such as that in the gallery behaves essentially in the same way as a living being because it influences it and is influenced by this context.
We must not, however, confuse such dynamics with the first-hand interactivity between the viewer and the work. In the case of Open System, in fact, there is no direct interaction with the viewer, as happens in other of his installations in which the presence of people explicitly acts on the work. The openness of the device is, in other words, essentially due to the place: the gallery is no longer a container but a space that influences the work and conditions its very structure through the quantity of light or the temperature.

A Delaying Technology
At the heart of many of Loskot’s works is the knowledge that our relationship with reality is mediated by individual perceptions and by the continual imaginative (re)constructions that our senses constantly elaborate. The artist, that is, highlights an empirical/experiential attitude in the face of nature, and technology basically has the scope of reducing the velocity of perceptions and so make them rationally visible thanks to a delayed dynamic for enjoyment.
Open System begins in the gallery’s entrance hall which is then connected to the other rooms inside by an unusual leitmotif: a ray of light, reflected from a mirror, guides the viewer through the other rooms and becomes the trigger for an unpredictable process in which our perceptive systems are stimulated. In fact, in Open System the technology feeds and sustains a complex sense-device in which art has the role of surprising and exciting the viewers, putting them into contact with what is most precious to us all: the sense of wonder.
So the phenomena studied, many of which are natural, are a field of inquiry with respect to which technology has only the auxiliary role of an instrument for revealing/manifesting: in other words, it acts like acids do with respect to a latent photographic image which, however, is already imprinted and is potentially present on the paper.
In Loskot’s installations the use of technological devices is aimed at changing the viewer’s immediate perceptions, from the spatial volumes of the environment to the very idea of time itself. For this Czech artist, technology is the factual/concrete tool that in a Promethean-like – i.e. concretely knowable – way makes visible what is hidden from view: it serves to reveal those unexpected phenomena that make reality a constantly replenished reservoir of surprises.

Open Your Eyes
We can say that, thanks to this functional technological approach, Loskot tends to recompose the two polarities of nature and technology to show that it is we who, thanks to art and our senses, sew back together a dichotomy that perhaps no longer even belongs to us. Our senses are precisely suited to collecting and channeling information, to holding together in a single complex perception the Socratic evisceration of the phenomena that the works presents.
For Loskot art is, above all, a sense device; one that, without relying on  special effects, generates a surprise by revealing to us what we could never have imagined. The first and deepest impression that we register, once we trust in our eyes, is that of wonder.

Nebojša Despotović. Velvet gloves Eng

Nebojša Despotović
Velvet Gloves

Trento (I), Galleria Boccanera
November 2010 ― January 2011

Painting as Timing and Precision
Daniele Capra

Such isms as modernism, postmodernism etc, they’re just no longer applicable to the world we live in. The whole practice of painting is about two things: timing and precision. [I]

Never as today has painting been such a choice for those artist who practice it. An empathic choice that has only been laterally influenced by the great development of the media, technology, and telematics which have – more than anything else – implemented the number and efficiency of the working tools as well as the way in which social relationships are managed. But there have been no epochal changes in the dynamics with which painting is created and produced, given that the artists who devote themselves to it are in some way naturally impelled to an intimate and daily hand-to-hand fight with it: given that painting is nourished by innumerable stimuli, many of which are far distant from its own world, manual ability and technique are unavoidable factors because artists construct their own identity by the act of working. Due to this continuative and constant personal relationship, paintings show, not only their ideological, cultural, and aesthetic background – as with all works of art – but also the physical stratification of the work that the artist has finished: in other words, a brushstroke sums up in itself the history of all the brushstrokes made because it is the total outcome of all the additions set down by the artist. It is, therefore, inevitable that painting highlights a past condensed on the surface and with respect to which the artist needs to make a résumé; he is obliged to do so (even in the moment when making a minimalist work or having a non-objective or procedural approach) in a form that is quite often compulsive and violent, not so much in his particular way of painting but in the pressing need to work. Jean Luc Nancy has written, “the image is the prodigious force-sign of an improbable presence irrupting from the heart of a restlessness on which nothing can be built. It is the force-sign of the unity without which there would be neither thing, nor presence, nor subject. But the unity of the thing, of presence and of the subject is itself violent”.[II] The result is that painting further raises the pressure by adding to its charge the image it produces, an evidently cumbersome adoptive daughter.

Nebojša Despotović’s work is, in many ways, the result of this combined action of daily work, pressure, and intensity which do not acknowledge each other reciprocally yet are evident, above all, in his way of following his interests and controlling their outcome. When visiting the studio of an artist it often happens that you see works of varying quality, and frequently what is most stimulating is the ability of the curator or dealer to intuit the strength of the works and choose those that are most stimulating. On the various occasions that I have been in Nebojša Despotović’s studio I have always been amazed by the quality of all his works; basically, there was nothing to be put aside or was less intense. On the contrary, all the works were fascinating. Like Bacon, the artist himself made a first choice through a kind of intelligence that is not so much a question of self-censoring but of selecting (“I destroy many works but the best remain”). So it seems that, apart from expressive and linguistic impulses, behind each work there is an intelligent kind of responsibility related to Richter and his wish to leave his mark on the world because “a painter has to believe in what he does, he must be completely involved in what he is doing in order to be a painter. Once he is obsessed by it he will come to the point in which he believes he can change mankind through his painting”.[III]

The works grouped together under the title Velvet Glove are the result of Despotović’s activities based on memory and on particular and individual hoards of photographs. This is a series which started from a project for working in an iconographical and technologically recognizable way, one in which, apart from the worth of each image, there are close relationships between the works. To evolve and invent single series rather than individual works allows, on the one hand, a concentration of energy yet, on the other, requires an elevated form of intellectual self-control. Or, as this Serbian artist says, “I am crazy about Richter’s work. He manages to make each brushstroke an element of a far greater mechanism”. So we can already appreciate his aim of building a basis for large-scale works.

The Velvet Glove works are characterized by a particular approach to the history of individuals, and their aim is to bring to the surface images, situations, scents, and sensations which would otherwise be buried for ever in the drawers of old chests. Spontaneously, the forms of this young artist have the power to allow the emergence of pieces of a forgotten past, as happened with Proust’s madeleines. In fact, the works result from a hunt for images that has its beginnings in history books, old photos, old encyclopaedias, and schoolbooks picked up in flea markets. They are slices of abandoned personal memories which end up in the hands of people distant in time and space; and yet there is nothing in common between those who look at the images and those who are portrayed. They are never icons but, rather, precise identities. These are people who have lived, fought, loved, and suffered. Their distance from us is indicated by the yellowed paper which represents the wear of time and the draining away of their iconographical value. And so his work, without ever being a weary ode to the past or of what might have been, allows the visual concentration and condensation of what time speedily dilutes. The men, women, and children whom, having saved them from oblivion, Despotović portrays in the poses they assumed in front of the camera, tell us of a world that no longer exists and that by now is firmly a part of the mare magnum of history. Yet they were probably never protagonists or recognizable protagonists of this history. But their new portraits are testimonies to the importance of their (and our) individual existence, of all that it is necessary to fix on and keep hold of for future history. Never so much as since the 20th century (when the masses became part of history and the media became central to our society) have we been able to say, even at an iconographical level, that we are history.

The dull, leaden colours, the dark yet feisty tints (from which we can intuit the artist’s love of Tuymans), the heavily underlined yet never completely defined physiognomies, and the barely sketched-in details, all allow us to glimpse what is most important for us: our own identity. At times this might overlook some bits and pieces because we are not moulded by the hands of anyone, least of all by an artist such as Despotović who does not claim to explain everything and who knows perfectly when to silence his brush. And so he manages to show what is not clear or perfectly outlined. An element hidden among the folds of our life or the wrinkles of a velvet glove which, unknowingly, is held in the hand of a child seen in an anonymous portrait.

[1] L. Tuymans in Why Paintings Succeed Where Words Fail, interview by G. Harris, The Art Newspaper, September 2009, p. 38.
[2] J. L Nancy, The Ground of the Image, New York: Fordham University Press, 2005, p. 23.
[3] G. Richter, H. U. Obrist, The Daily Practice of Painting, Notes 1973, Cambridge: Mit Press, 1995, p. 78.