One of the artists my tutor asked me to have a look at, with regards paintings of interiors, is Czech born Daniel Pitín. According to his biography on Nicodim Gallery (link below) he is a leading figure among a generation of artists to have emerged since the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe, exploring political, architectural, and psychological dystopias through subjects including espionage and surveillance, cinematography and theater sets, pornography and loneliness.
I watched some YouTube videos where he is interviewed (one subtitled and one in English – see link credits below). For some of his themes, he takes stills from a movie and places that image into another entirely different and oftentimes disturbing environment. His palette appears quite ‘dirty’, muddy almost, incorporating strong architectural elements, mood and atmosphere. I think his paintings evoke a mysterious and sometimes scary relationship between illusion and reality. When asked what is the reason why he does art, he said that .. ‘The work is the most important part of life … the most important thing is to keep going … it’s a fight.’
Daniel Pitin produces large, visually complex paintings, dense with imagery and subtle references to films and canonical works of art, and sometimes containing embedded bits of newspaper, lace, and paper towels. Pitin’s dark color palette, solitary, ethereal figures, and surreal structures, which seem to both reveal and hide their occupants, imbue his works with moodiness and mystery. He describes his paintings as fragments of stories or dreams, explaining that through them he explores the “personal and public memory of the place where I live.” (from Artsy – link below)
In the YouTube video, he explains how came to create one of the works featured – ‘Swimming Pool’ – he takes a fragment (still) from a movie that catches his eye and transplants that image into another environment, creating a painting with great tension. The woman in the image is Romy Schneider from Jacques Deray’s La Piscine (1969* (*Credit ArtReview article). I was intrigued and inspired by this painting and how he came to produce it.
Lee in a Bath (2016), a sister image (to Swimming Pool) catches the photographer Lee Miller blithely washing herself in Hitler’s tub as if scrubbing away evil. Pitín interrogates voyeuristic moments while suspending them: what are these lonely figures up to? (from Art Review article – link below). I found an article discussing the reference photo for this painting (link below). The strong architectural elements in this painting, coupled with the masterful tone and focus or ‘spice’ colours of red and orange create a dynamic energised image – even though the central characer is relaxing in a bath. The setting could be inside a building site or a derelict factory, there isn’t one section of the surface of the painting that doesn’t have something visually interesting going on.
Speaking about one of his most recent exhibitions, he said:
“A Paper Tower somehow shows my relationship with the world of the media and the world of information in which we are constantly present, and which creates a certain relative space. It is as if space is made of paper, which pretends to be reality, but at the same time, it can only be an illusion of reality. This line between the illusion of reality and reality is important in my work and I have been exploring it over time. And I address this limit with the exhibition,” the artist explains the exhibition title.“
Here are a selection of earlier works that I found quite fascinating:
I find ‘Glass Houses’ particularly interesting. The buildings are transluscent, almost ghostly under what appears to be a pink canopy of nuclear fallout maybe? It’s full of hope and destruction. It made me feel as though I was running in some dream state, and came crashing through some trees to be faced with this environnental carnage. Incredulous, the buildings are still standing somehow. I think this is a painting that could change the more one looks at it – I’d love to have it on my wall!
This is a classroom perhaps. The light coming through the windows and touching the people standing at the far end of the room is a toxic diseased yellow. The girl-woman who is seated looking downwards is watching a man (I think) who is wearing a helmet of some sort but they don’t seem to be connected or aware of each other. There is a lot of energy and activity going on with the brushwork and painterly effects but the scene itself is actually quite calm. Weird. I can’t find anything online where he discusses the process of making this painting, I’d love to know what was going on in his head while he made it and where is the ‘white ribbon’ of the title?
https://artreview.com/reviews/ar_january_february_2020_review_daniel_pitn/ (art critic view of A Paper Tower exhibition)
https://www.galerierudolfinum.cz/en/exhibitions/past-exhibitions/daniel-pitin/ (exhibition – A Paper Tower)
https://artpil.com/news/daniel-pitin-a-paper-tower/ (The Paper Tower)
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/photography/what-to-see/lee-miller-woman-hitlers-bathtub/ (Article discussing the actual photo – Lee Miller in Hitler’s bath)