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Barragán’s Garden, Camp us Hybernská, Prague, Czech Republic, 4-22.11.2019

The third path of my painterly considerations revolves around architecture. A series titled Barragán’s Garden was inspired by the concepts of Mexican architect Luis Barragán, who did not separate landscape, garden and architecture in his space design process. He believed that landscape and the designed buildings are one. Nature does not only surround them but it also penetrates them. The designer realised his vision of kinaesthetic architecture, which on the subconscious level engages the whole perception and imagination, stirring up emotions which in turn may evolve into the feeling of beauty. The idea of creating a perfect living space required taking into account tradition and the specificity of local building materials. Therefore, although the architect’s art is considered minimalist, it demonstrates the use of colour and texture. Both the colour and the structure of the used building material was integrated with the surrounding landscape and produces an interesting combination. Situated on the post-volcanic terrain of El Pedregal, the residential neighbourhood (considered to be representative of Barragán’s work) was made of a regional stone and sand excavated from under a thick layer of rock, which reached over a dozen metres deep. In his 1949 letter to Swedish architect Paul Artaria, Hannes Meyer mentions the unique colour effect produced by contrasting dark grey/violet rocks used in the gardens and house structures with the sand used for making roads, whose wide colour range embraced light ochre, umber and burnt red. He also highlighted the unique fauna and flora of the region, which surely demonstrated peculiar adaptive features owing to the specific atmospheric condition of the area. As a result of intense heat and lack of water, yuccas and cactuses were popular garden plants.
Textural diversity and sharp colour accents, which produce a bulging effect, combined with clearly marked shapes emerging from the surface of the canvases became the basic defining elements of the Mexican modernist garden. A series of canvas paintings was made, comprising about sixteen works, 70 × 70 cm each, and additionally three 100 × 100 cm pictures. The series was painted in the acrylic on canvas technique in the years 2017–2019. The paintings resemble small-size notations and were initially meant as sketches or formal experiments. Some of them are in my opinion unsatisfying, however, on the other hand, they are important in the perspective of the empirical painting activities which I undertake. The exhibition combines the modernist tradition (as it mentions the popular architect) and the post-modernist collage of thought and inspiration.
The exhibition shown in Campus Hybernská in Prague featured a selection of works from the mentioned series complemented by a few works on paper. The vertical composition, made of twelve 50 × 70 cm modules, was installed on the ceiling and it freely cascaded down to the floor, covering it like a carpet. The employed composition trick was a direct reference to the recurring principle captured in the real scale. It evoked the cascading plants, covering the monumental walls around the vast terraces, platforms, pools, staircases and facades of El Pedregal.