Duino Elegies at Kun Kelemen, Bratislava, February 2017

Miroslav Pomichal’s first solo show at Kun Kelemen Fine Arts confronts the themes of tension and contradiction in his work: those between surface and materiality, acceptance and struggle, abstraction and the decorative. With new urgency his work exposes the troubled relationship that the now, the notion of the contemporary, has with its own legacy and mythology. In a newly focused set of paintings and two dimensional work, Pomichal draws on the strained and hidden legacy of Gothic form as it has been weaved in and out of Western cultural concerns. In particular, Duino Elegies draws upon the possibilities contained in the eponymous set of poems by Rainer Maria Rilke. With their latent chiliasm, chambered interiority, and the archaism of faith, Rilke has locked the exhilarations and true possibility of spiritual purification from before the Great War into the final, innermost room.

Pomichal’s figures literally embody similar scars and dead ends of a collapsed cultural renewal. Landscape-like, individual limbs and torso parts mutually buttress each other like the decaying, mock-organic accretions of the carcasses of medieval cathedrals. Like the punctured and damaged skin of a flayed white whale, his paintings display the forlorn formal discoveries of the last maddened idealists. A particular and abiding influence is the work of early Modernists. Pomichal bluntly recalls their belief in spiritual redemption through form which has exerted the major gravitational pull on the schizophrenic aspirations of 20th century Western civilization. For him, early Modernism also frames a gateway, like a black hole, into the form-world of ancient and medieval cultures. Pomichal’s new body of work accordingly includes the trope of the serpent-conqueror; the struggle with the dragon. This, the oldest Indo-European mythic image underwent endless mutations. Pomichal’s strugglers cite the symmetric convolutions of Scythian ironwork as well as the rigidity of Byzantine mosaics. Overlaid with the faux-wood patterns of clichéd sub-Cubism, they also emanate the two more recent interests of Pomichal’s practice: European neo-Medieval fantasy, as well as the re-evaluation of New Image (Transavangarde) painting, both of which flourished with a sickly glow in the 1980s. For Pomichal, these visual phenomena display the stirring ways in which artists continue to feel the uncontrollable urge for visual convolution and the permeation of material surface and form with transcendent aspirations. In his new body of work, Pomichal savours the freedom of such limitations.