Artforum / article / Vladimír Skrepl

Vladimir Skrepl
Schönleinstraße 32,
June 25–August 1

21-07-2010 08:00 | Travis Jeppesen

In the annals of “bad painting,” the great anti-aesthetic that has been experiencing something of a revival of interest since the 2008 “Bad Painting––Good Art” exhibition at the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vladimir Skrepl is to the Czech Republic what Georg Baselitz is to Germany or Asger Jorn is to Denmark. While much younger than the other two (Skrepl was born in 1955), and lesser known (having come of age behind the iron curtain), Skrepl is regarded as one of the most important contemporary artists in his home country, even though he remains an obscure figure abroad.

This is largely due to the inherent difficulties of his work. Like art by other proponents of the “bad,” Skrepl’s paintings are messy, wild, shocking, obscene, and crudely expressionistic. Skrepl takes things one step further than his peers, however, in choosing to paint with acrylics rather than oils. Given that he favors extreme impasto, the surfaces of his works often resemble melted candle wax, which endows the paintings with a certain cheap factor. Die übertriebene Hygiene (Excessive Hygiene; all works cited, 2010) is typical in this regard, with so many confused colors violating the canvas that the work appears simply filthy; the piece includes two toothbrushes for a double dose of irony. (Like Robert Rauschenberg, another predecessor, Skrepl incorporates objects into many of his paintings.)

If there are any complaints beyond the obvious tactile offenses, one could venture that Skrepl’s work at times feels unfocused—beyond his adolescent affinity for symbols like stars, suns, skulls, crosses, and swastikas, a Skrepl painting could include almost anything. Ultimately, though, one is won over by the works’ total lack of pretense, as in Siamese Erziehung (Siamese Education), which depicts two women, one clothed in black and the other naked, the latter’s body spewing forth some sort of phallic object in acrid, zombie-movie tones, while in the upper right-hand corner, the face of a clown—perhaps the god of Planet Skrepl—explodes.

source: Artforum International Magazine
author: Travis Jeppesen

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