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Petr Kavan: A Brief Visit

Czech storyteller and philosopher Petr Kavan invites visitors to look within themselves through his black granite and bronze statues which reflect on esoteric notions of human destiny and existence.

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Born and raised in the Czech area of Mala Lhota, self-referred to as the country’s “Bohemian Paradise”, Petr Kavan’s primary methodology existed of working with wood as he creating sculptures and marionettes of local materials. Broadening both his personal and artistic horizons, Kavan started working with refined materials like black granite and bronze as he moved to India in 1996. Following this move, the artist’s most recent black granite statues represent an aesthetical shift from the first chapter of his artistic life — from creating works based explicitly factual narrative works towards anecdotes of esoteric or spiritual value which reflect on the notions of human destiny.

In the abstract patterns and clearer lines of his most recent work, Kavan borrows patterns and textures from his surroundings (the Indian town of Mamallapuram) and looks towards his new spiritual beliefs (Buddhism) – as he attempts to incorporate a kind of existential essence to his works that serve as a confrontation with one’s own mortality. This essence is not only essential within the final product but in the entire methodology of his practice — in which he chisels away pieces of stone or carefully carving away pieces of wood in an almost meditation-like fashion.

Kavan describes the central motif of his works in ‘A Brief Visit’, his latest exhibition at Galerie Kuzebauch, as an encounter with one’s own corporeal nature, and an awareness of one’s own mortality. Looking at works such as  Sisyphus, where one sees a bronze humanoid figure portrays the never-ending laborious (and futile) cycle of the Greek myth, offers viewers the opportunity to come face-to-face with the futility of one’s own existence. Each work in the exhibition underscores the fact that life is short; borrowed time that one day we will have to return. These realisations may be quite dark, but the exhibition offers visitors an opportunity to look within themselves and challenges them to dig deeper into the wisdom contained within these spiritual realisations, ultimately, providing a degree of relief.  A proper comprehension of such truths – a surrender to fate – serves as one of the themes that Kavan’s statues so effectively mine.

Petr Kavan’s exhibition ‘A Brief Visit’ will be on view at Galerie Kuzenbauch until September 5th 2019


Penetration, 2004, 63 x 31 x 25 cm, black granite, Photo: Ondřej Polák
Bhishma dying, 1991, wood290 x 180 x 40 cm, Photo: Jaroslav Prokop
Woman's head, 2004, 70 x 27 x 30 cm, black granite. Photo: Ondřej Polák
Sati Temple, 1999, black granite, bronze, 158 x 46 x 30 cm. Photo: Ondřej Polák
The Trinity, 2002, 54 x 45 x 14 cm, black granite bronze. Photo: Martin Polák
Sisyphus, 2000, black granite, bronze, 105 x 57 x 24 cm, Photo: Martin Polák
Unicorns, 1999, black granite, bronze. 90 x 60 x 40 cm, Photo: Martin Polák

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