The spirit wanders where it wants
At the beginning of his artistic career in the late 1960s, Aleš Lamr paid homage to a kind of mysterious universal myth represented above all by fantasy ornament. He needed to deal with something that transcended man in history and continues to do so. Lamr created the myth of magical ornamental fantasy, a theme arising from somewhere out of the darkness of human cultural history, out of his own imagination, doing so with ever greater involvement, as though with an addition that wasn't just artistic but spiritual as well. He was in danger of becoming a victim of it. There then followed years of rebellion against the greatness and mystery of myth, however much it was the artist's own myth. He did so with humor and satire, with a communicative grotesque of figurative scenes that were strange, yet at the same time close to man. These scenes were played by people, nature, objects, as well as by abstracted artistic forms demonstrating the artist's freedom from reality. Through the strength of his own art, the painter become the creator of an earthly world and succeeded in entertaining himself with it, to the undoubted benefit of those who admired his playfully colourful pictorial conception. It is no wonder that Lamr drew the impulses of Pop art, and with it the style of narration genre of comic serials. In his pictures, it was brimming with humorously allegorical action, sometimes also critical scenes that he characterised with the witty commentary of titles given to individual works and cycles.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, Aleš Lamr wrote a major chapter of European new figuration. In the spirit of the political and cultural atmosphere of the day in this country, he gave it a form that was characteristically and playfully grotesque. There were few artists who, during the years of hopelessness following the Soviet invasion occupation of 1968, opened up the space of the picture to a spontaneous play with shapes from the earthly world, who infused the picture with a joy of a free white space, as though wishing not only to keep the optimism of events in late 190s alive, but to develop it further. He did so in spite of that period, and in keeping with the motto he had written as a note in one of his earliest drawings - the spirit wanders where it wants. An independent spirit challenged Lamr to derive joy from the world and art, possibly because the burden of specific events of history was too great. When one remembers several of his exhibitions from the 1970s and 80s, it's like breathing in the atmosphere of joyful, beneficial release that exhibited works created in one's mind.
The path leading to Lamr's current pictures was a more complex one, however. A renewed respect for spiritual realities manifested itself in his work, partly through an increasing measure of abstraction, and partly through an orientation towards summarised symbolic forms reflecting the timeless nature of spiritual values. What is more the new atmosphere of the shapes' actions in Lamr's pictures made one sense that the strong element of personal faith, the will to personally merge with the mystery of the spiritual message, had come into play. It was like an inward confirmation and an intimate sanctifying of universally mythologising, sometimes openly religious elements evolving over time from Lamr's early work.
Today, the spirit is becoming more universal. It leads to the creation of ever- changing configurations of basic geometrical shapes, as well as chaotically free ones - the construction principles of the universe. It makes itself visible through extreme abstractions that the artistic imagination provides as material for understanding and experiencing the multiplicity of the cosmos's constructive hugeness. Now as well, there is space for the joys of metaphorical thought and feeling. Through the painter's imagination, the spirit lightly and playfully creates emblems of its identity. It therefore belongs to the fundamental character of Lamr's latest configurations of forms that he leads his current serious, universalising dialogues with the spirit at the level of gently playful artistic vision. His newest pictures, mainly monumental in feeling, represent the culmination of his work in this direction.
© 2005 Aleš Lamr, ArtForum / ICZ a.s.