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(The exhibition of Ivan Mares)

I guess I will never forget the impression the Niagara Falls made on my father, when I finally took him there during his last trip in Canada. He used to be a member of western-lovers' movement, those who called themselves "tramps" and every weekend disappeared in the countryside to live their wild adventures. He had a cabin in the settlement called "The Crawfish Valley" and "Niagara" was his distant a therefore immortal love - as it was in the famous song of the same name.

As he was standing there, his eyes came alive with old memories and I had to envy him. I have lived in Canada and States, worked in London and Tokyo, but I felt he was the great traveller who lived through many adventures, all of them greater than I ever had. He didn't ride on Canadian Pacific, just on some old train to Sazava valley, he never fished for salmon, only for river trout, and he didn't conquer the wild rapids of Orinoco, but Svatojanské proudy instead. You see, it really does not matter where do you live your adventure, but how much it comes from your heart. It is not given by number of miles you traveled nor how many borders you crossed. By some magic, the adventure is actually hidden in our souls and had to be discovered - it is not a journey out, but rather a trip inwards.

The same thing apparently applies to art: you have to know how to look under its surface and peel its secrets off, one layer after another. And deeper you go, the more layers are there. It can be best seen on art objects made of glass: they are transparent and still, or maybe because of that, so mysterious. It looks as they are hiding iside some other space, made invisible by its transparency. Such are also the objects created by Ivan Mareš. Not. Not only because of modern techniques he is using - we know they are quite complex and difficult as well - no, it is mainly because of the subjects he chooses, the style of shapes and the harmony of colors. And much more than that, as it was already proven by his success abroad.

I was especially attracted by his "Nautilus". Very interesting creature indeed: the sea mollusk, something between a snail and an octopus, the only one surviving animal of his kind, 450 million years of surviving plus-minus a million or so. It lives rather peacefully in its shell and floats in the water like nothing else matters, once a while spreading its tentacles and catching a shrimp. Yet it is a mystery of its own: it moves with the help of rather modern technique: by expulsing a jet of water, similarly to the principle of rocket. And what's more: his shell contains several compartments, where it can adjust the volume of water or air, so it can sink and surface same way the modern submarine does. No wonder that great Jules Verne gave his captain Nemo's ship the name Nautilus.

But that is not a reason why I like the Nautilus by Ivan Mareš that that much; in spite of the fact that I am rather fascinated by any creature of sea. I was mostly attracted by the delicate way the artist kept the natural beauty of nautilus and added still another, the truly artistic one. And there's exactly where the imagination and deeper comprehension starts, where the real art begins. The process which I sometimes feel is never ending since it is the process of self-discovery as well. The discovery of the Doppelganger inside us, the one we can seldom see or hear.

The scientists also admit that while the nautilus lives on this Earth - pardon me, I meant "in our seas" - for so long, we still know very little about it. They did not explain why it is so, but it's not so difficult to guess: we also know so little about ourselves...

© Jan B. Hurych
Hurontaria - Czech/English magazine

© 2000 Ivan Mares, ArtForum / ICZ a.s.
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