Articles and Interviews > Frantisek Strouhal: in the Realm of the senses By John Austin

Frantisek Strouhal: in the Realm of the senses By John Austin


Whether by inclusion of panoramic scenes of nature or through close-up fugurative studies Frantisek Strouhal’s works have within them a holistic quality that overrides the particulars we see framed within the vision of each subject matter. There is a palpable and necessary condition of positive ambiguity and other-worldliness in the artist’s works which pervades each scene and which brings it to an exquisitely high level of intelligibility. Form and color and structure overrides the intellect here, as it does intuition altogether, although these two aspects of creativity are satisfyingly applied in each of Strouhal’s works before us.

There is that intangible “more” at play in the artist’s complex artworks whose very aura of suggestiveness, so hard to pin down and express in words, is proof of its measure. It reminds us of Edgar Allen Poe’s reference to “a suggestive indefiniteness of vague and therefore spiritual effect” and of Coleridge’s remark that every work of art must have about it something not understood to obtain its full effect. These two facets of an artwork, a vague suggestiveness and a not-known, combined, give the spark of life to art. Frantisek Strouhal’s work bespeaks of a particular expansion of the spirit which gives rise to this intense, inner realization. This deepening manifestation of an intrinsic potential of all matter is at the heart of Strouhal’s cultural efforts.

The complex works of the artist are nothing if not voluptuous, sensualized realizations of color, light and form. He uses photography, digital collage, contact printing and lithographic ink on watercolor paper. Strouhal seems to have taken his cue from the 19th century masters in his intense deliberations on the passage of time sensed through a quicksilver sensibility. What is most striking in his examination of the world before him is his investiture in the act of seeing, really seeing, what is before him as if he were seeing for the first time. By this I mean that the artist’s attempts at capturing his impressions through his sensations appear unprejudicial and alert to incongruencies of perspectival and scale shifts. What emerges through the painterly effort is to see the manifestation of the world, that moment when the motif, as a whole, of sensate experience is realized, instantaneously.

This pre-verbal apprehension of the world, this feeling is the tone that pervades Strouhal’s work, as in those of his nineteenth-century artistic predecessors, is one in which the slow and hazy flow of time seems to be materialized through light. It is through the passage of the sun’s rays that the viewer understands Strouhal’s meditative approach to his calling which evokes the capturing of the sublime moment. The viewer is left to ponder on the artificial distinctions that are made between an image of land or figure and the concept of a photographed, printed and painted object itself, an acculturated construct. The artist’s images points to the artist’s participatory role in setting-up the visual conditions for an aestheticized experience. The latter operation is realized through the presentation device of offering a framed artifact in order to launch a valuable cultural enterprise which consensus has labeled “art-making”. Frantisek Strouhal’s raising of such questions in his work lies around the core of his visual investigations what makes these excursions into visuality so encompassing is the artist’s evident longing to capture most fugitive effects. To do so, suggests Strouhal, is the surest means to convey a multitude of experiences. When Charles Baudelaire defined modernity as “the ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art whose other half is the eternal and the immutable” he was speaking for all of us who feel the fleeting rush of time and the need to capture its essence.

Frantisek Strouhal, through his layered descriptions, his landscapes and portraits, encourages us to consider the “fugitive” immateriality of the world. Paradoxically, it is the artist’s immersion within this immateriality, this grounding within the very stuff of life that sharpens his observational skills. The end result is a switching between different levels of reality, from the mundane to the exalted to the sublime and back. In his seeming determination to see for us what we have overlooked in the rushing stream of life Frantisek Strouhal, artist, becomes an extraordinary recorder of the ordinary gestures of living and imagination.

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