VIENNA ART WEEK 2016 - Marcello Farabegoli Projects
The philosopher Immanuel Kant used to differentiate in a peculiar way between the “pleasant” and the “fine” arts. Pleasant are those aesthetic occurrences taking place in the background, where they provide for a nice atmosphere, but do not attract attention. Things are deemed “fine” when they raise our awareness and do not only appeal to our senses, but also inspire our minds. Fine art is an attempt to lend aesthetic expression and shape to an idea. An aesthetic idea being the product of a thinking mind, it needs to manifest itself in one way or another in order to become aesthetic. Without material manifestation, without being moulded and taking form, without a sign making reference to it, an idea will merely remain an idea – invisible, unrecognizable, unarticulated. Twenty-century Conceptual Art makes use of the exciting polarities of the concepts of idea and manifestation described by Immanuel Kant, and Guido Kucsko’s works betray an effort of their ironic inflection.
According to the American philosopher Arthur C. Danto, modern art essentially revolves around a sole idea: the question of what art is. It can be said that Guido Kucsko’s works paradigmatically address almost all of the facets of this question and do so with compelling clarity, precision, and consistency, nourished by a pronounced interplay between idea and figuration, text and image, and concept and visualization. The artist started out from an object of great simplicity that is difficult to make: the black panel. Whether rectangular or square, smooth or contoured, extremely flat or distinctly three-dimensional, dimensioned as a large expanse or en miniature, it intensively corresponds with both its own species and provocatively interrogative texts. However, these texts, incubators of the aesthetic ideas that are being negotiated here, offer neither explanations nor verbal additions, nor do they represent titles in the sense of captions, but constitute an integral part of the work as such. Only from this confrontation between image and text, form and word, manifestation and concept, and object and question do the meaning and the wit of this elaborately composed composition result.
Kucsko’s works might also be interpreted as ironic commentaries upon central aspects of the contemporary art business. What converts an artist into a brand that ennobles everything he or she touches (“It's a Kucsko”); how do original and reproduction relate to each other in the age of universal digital replication (“This is not a digital copy”); at what point does writing become an image and thus an incontestable work of art (“Is my handwriting a piece of art?”); under what circumstances are ideas protected by copyright (“Is this panel copyright protected?”); is it possible for an artist to plagiarize himself or herself or can he or she only produce copies or variants of his or her works (“Plagiarism Diptych”); does three-dimensionality, i.e., the occupation of space, turn a picture into a sculpture (“Is this panel an object or a picture?”); and can beauty simply be claimed (“This is beautiful”)? The point of these correspondences is that these statements and problems cannot be discussed arbitrarily and without reference, but that they should be deliberated, concretized, and solved with regard to the object they are related to. In the same way as the beholder’s eyes move back and forth between object and text, his or her thoughts will jump from thesis to antithesis, from a surprising insight to the subsequent smiling recognition of the complicated relation between idea and work, between complexity and simplicity, between an idea and its realization.
Immanuel Kant also once remarked that works of art may fire the intellect, but could eventually never be fully grasped and understood by reason. This can perfectly be demonstrated with the aid of two panels entitled “Title #1 – Is It the Title?” and “Title #2 – Is It the Title?”. Two identical black rectangles, one of which embodies the “principle of fine beauty”, while the other literally “contains” the “revenge of the night”: they have it in them to cause us to brood over the relationship between beauty and night, clarity and confusion, principles and a thirst for revenge. Wherever our reflections will lead us, they will have been sparked by objects in which form and intellect, wit and visualization, and question and answer have been interconnected in the finest way possible.
(Translation: Brigitte Willinger)