IN PRAISE OF ROUND OBJECTS
The world was created as a round one - well, I do not mean just the Earth itself or stars and planets; we can see the roundness everywhere. True, there are some straight lines and flat planes, but as our mathematicians are telling us, those are only the special cases. Nothing in the world is actually that straight. So why not indulge in the roundness, its curvatures and the multitudes of shapes we have in store? And if you really want to go for a treat, see the collection of glass artworks of Miluse Roubickova-Kytkova and Rene Roubicek. They are, by the way, already the third married couple of "artists in glass" I am writing here about. I wonder - could it be there is some special attractive force in glass which our physicists somehow missed?
Many years of working and exhibiting around the world made this couple the unseparable part of Czech glass tradition and rightly so. But if you ask me what artistic style or school they followed, I could hardly put my finger on it, probably because there is so much originality in their work which resists any usual pattern. But one thing strikes me immediately first sight: the roundness of their sculptures and objects - they not only have curvatures, they enhance them, they magnify them. It is partly because they use two techniques which create mostly the curved shapes: moulded glass and blown glass. Both techniques are probably the oldest ways of forming the glass and it takes a lot of inspiration to be able to come up with something new and strikingly beautiful. They are also very difficult methods, but the results are well worth the efforts.
Of course here their similarity ends: moulding is the technology for creating mostly massive, heavy objects, which are impressing us more with their weight, their three-dimensions. yes, the beauty of melted glass, frozen in the solid shape. Looking at it, we can still imagine it as a flowing liquid, filling the form through its streams, folds and ripples, and settling down by its own weight.
Blown glass, on the other hand, is nothing but a shell "full of air" and looks like some bubbles, balloons or what not. We are seduced by its lightness - it seems to be suspended in the air, ready to fly away with the wind. Well, they are so fragile we may be even trying to hold our breath in order not to blow them away. Many times I was watching the glass-masters to create the blown glass and every time I was amazed and impressed. Like a baloon, the melted shell of hot glass was slowly growing as the glass-maker blew into it, but at the same time it had also a trend to bend down by the gravitation. There is a remedy, of course: you have to spin it, straighten it, keep it moving in right direction, sometime using wooden "shaper" to give it the proper shape. When I watched it, it all looked so easy - until I tried it, of course.
And if you try to do this for many years, you may eventually acquire not only the necessary skill, but also the feeling for "the soul of glass" which is somewhere in there, you just have to break the magic spell to get it out. The artists Miluse Roubíčková-Kytková and René Roubíček know all about it. They use other techniques as well: cut glass, flat glass, make chandeliers, artistic windows and others. But I was enchanted mostly with the round shapes: tempting me to touch them, to feel them, to squeeze them. So much they reminded me the beautiful, living objects on this well rounded world. You may guess which of those glassy objects I liked most - of course, those which represent parts of woman's body, so smooth, so beautiful. So nicely round.
© Jan B. Hurych
© 1999 Rene Roubicek and Miluse Roubickova, ArtForum / ICZ a.s.