East Contemporary

DOX: “Great Expectations” + Patrik Habl & Anna Beata Hablova “Such Other Presence” + Jaroslav Rona “Architectons and Machines”

Prague, 10 Nov 2021 – 24 Apr 2022 (Great Expectations), 27 Jan – 1 May 2022 (Hablovi), 17 Feb – 12 Jun 2022 (Rona), https://www.dox.cz

On my prior visit to DOX, I enjoyed the “Russia, Timeless” exhibition. What a paradox, that my follow up visit took place right on the day when the horrible Russian attack on Ukraine started, i.e. February 24th, 2022. This of course was something that tainted my perception, but it also showed the urgency and importance of the direction that DOX is taking with their programming.

The largest space was reserved for the “Great Expectations” group show. This was themed around the topic of childhood and growing up. As I experienced in the past in DOX, the theme was approached quite literarily and the halls were filled with dozens of artworks featuring children in all forms, shapes and styles. Individually, all of them were quality works by rather well known artists from the region. As a whole, it created a bit of an eerie cabinet of curiosities atmosphere. A childhood nightmare.

The “Tower” space was dedicated to a solo show by Patrik Habl and Anna Beata Hablova, a painter and poet couple. The paintings were often figurative or made use of quotations of classic works, overlaid with a strong patina, as if they were faded memories. The huge scrolls with poetry on them were unreadable and they did not really make any sense. I did not know what to make of it.

Another space featured a solo show by Jaroslav Rona, a Czech sculptor. The bronze sculptures looked like a hybrid between an alien version of Chinese ritual bronze vessels and architectural models taken out of H.R. Giger painting. Some of Rona’s own paintings decorated the walls but the focus here was on the sculptures. Some of them were fresh from the studio, marked with a 2021 signature. The atmosphere was mysterious and quite powerful.

Overall I think DOX is finding its place. From a Fine Arts perspective, it can feel a bit too educational and lecturing. But the intentions are good. It serves food for thought. Then there are the solo exhibitions which are as good as the artists are. It’s not always perfect. But in hindsight I feel it is fair to give space even to those who have their faults. We all have some. So I keep coming back, curious what will be next.

It was a nice and sunny day outside. And the Guliver airship (an event space) looked great against the blue sky. The Ukraine flag mounted on it however reminded of the horrors that were put into motion just a few hundred kilometers eastwards from this place at the same time I was enjoying the peaceful museum time. I am sure I will remember this visit to DOX for a long time.

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