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(exhibition of Ivo Kren)

The word garden was always rather fascinating for me. No, I am not a linguist and I cannot possibly tell the origin of that word. For instance, it could hardly be connected with something "guarded", but it may as well be. After all, the English proverb says, "My home is my castle" and those little backyards behind our houses - which we proudly call gardens - are often defended by us against intruders, the same way the medieval castles were. Some other gardens come also to my mind, namely the hanging gardens of Queen Semiramis (one of seven wonders of the World) or those of Queen Sheba (one flower is still called after her).

And then there is the garden of Paradise, the place we were thrown from, not by archangel Gabriel with flaming sword, but by our civilization, yes Sir. The place we used to live when we were kids is now only the garden of our memories. I already wrote here about my e-mail interview of Terry Pratchett - we talked about Paradise and the tree of knowledge. As I remember, Terry reminded me that there were two trees there: the tree of knowledge and the tree of life. And the real reason Adam and Eve were expelled from Paradise was the fear they could also eat from the tree of life and live forever. Too bad - it didn't happen. And then there are the gardens of love, but that would turn this essay into the story of thousand and one night...

Linocuts of Ivo Kren are, at least to me, like some gardens of knowledge and life. It is not very easy to walk through them, but the reward is the recognition itself. The gardens are - as it was already discovered in old Greece - not only for us to rest in, but also the places of study and knowledge, the places almost philosophical. Remember stoics? They found in gardens their balanced attitude to life itself - after all, all philosophies deal with life or at least some part of it.

The works of Ivo Kren also serve to give us pleasure and as I suspect, to give some pleasure to the artist himself. They tell us they were made with joy - one may even say: with love. They are some kind of garden celebrations, the symphonies of colors and shapes, but also with some other, gentle meanings. And that is the reason they are so well known around the world, thanks to exhibitions and private collections. A maybe because they confirm one not so commonly known truth: that the knowledge is a part of life and our life is one great experience.

© Jan B. Hurych
Hurontaria - Czech/English magazine

© 2001 Ivo Kren, ArtForum / ICZ a.s.
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