Glass, the glossy glass. I am almost positive that those two words have, beside the inherent linguistic link, also some other mutual connections: geometrical, optical and artistic. The last one is easy to prove: professor Marian Karel - artist, architect and teacher, all in one person - has already done that.
First: geometry. He gives his works simple names: Triangle, Square, Cube, Pyramid, Cylinder, Prism. But do not expect the old Euclidean space - for instance, his square has three dimensions. Elsewhere, his transparent glass creates objects similar to holograms and gives the impression that you see them from many directions at the same time. And true, triangle has three angles, but they also change, depending on your angle of view. And his prism defies gravity, being held in the air by some unknown force...
Then - optics. The artist knows it very well and he can harness it in his creations. But don't believe everything your eyes are telling you: there is more than meets the eye. In one place, our eyes can penetrate the matter while from another one we can only see what's behind us. And suddenly, we feel like trapped in not just three-, but multi-dimensional world. The space is expanding and our familiar reality is no more. It all suddenly gets new meaning thanks to light projections, reflections and transparencies. Glass is, after all, very much like water: sometimes transparent to great depth, sometimes only reflective like some lake at sunset. But contrary to frozen water, there is a life in glass. Just look closer: aren't those reflections suddenly moving?
Third connection - art. Not only shapes, light and space, but colors too. And unlimited combination of all that. Our illusionist is performing his miracles and like in the magic show, we wonder if it is "all done by mirrors only". But glass art of professor Karel does not stop there - he adds another important dimension: the beauty itself. His objects are not isolated in space: they are sittting in gardens, hang in Gothic halls, shine in streets, reflect the walls of an old castle corridor and enhance the majesty of medieval piazza in Venice. They fit there too, and why not - after all, art is timeless. Look closer and you may even see the ghosts of yesteryear. They are probably as curious as you are. And while watching all that, we have to ask: where is the object and where is the image? Where does our reality ends and the mirage starts? Or could it be there they are only two images of the same thing?
Karel's objects of art are of course more than just decorative art, they not only complement their surroundings - they give them new meanings, new functions, new beauty. No wonder Mr. Karel successfully exhibits all around the world, looking for new settings while experimenting with new ideas and techniques: molten glass, metallurgical glass, etched glass, glass flat or curved, reflection glass, and some steel, wood, you name it. And I bet he uses yet something else: a special magic.
© Jan B. Hurych
© 1999 Marian Karel, ArtForum / ICZ a.s.