Orbis Pirus – The World in Pictures

What lends the work of Petr Řehoř its secure place in time, is the constant immediacy of his message enclosed in energetic coats of colour, and his sense for composition which is always selected in such a manner that it adds a deeper meaning to the concept of the original impetus and the chosen subject matter, thus extending the elusive moment of action which the artist attempts to imprint in his paintings, collages, assemblages, graphic works and aquarelle series.

In front of us is a world in pictures seen though the eyes of Petr Řehoř , or rather, pictures depicting a world in which he seeks and composes his tales. With the penetrating eyes of a painter he asks questions about exterior encumbrances and confusing elements in an attempt to grasp, make sense and capture in lines and colours, the essence of the ephemeral events around him, to freeze them in time, to get under their surface, to attain their core and thus understand the essence of being. How unrewarding, rime-consuming, non-lucrative and almost always, how undesirable it is. Despite this, the artist never veered off from the road he had set himself upon, even though there were times when he could have taken the straight and smooth route which is not, however, heavy-laden with meaningful thought.

Petr Řehoř is not only a persistent explorer of his own inner path, but he also oscillates between two cultural traditions. He was born in Czechoslovakia, and after studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, he left the oppressive atmosphere of the then socialist state behind and through various coincidences of fate he finds himself in Finland. Here he encounters a diametrically opposed language of an endlessly flat, raw landscape and a twilight with a low horizon. What did the painter have to go through before he adopted this land within himself and identified himself with it? How did the painter who has a deep sense for colour and bright tones feel in the land of frequent twilight? I don’t know. All I know is that his sense for colour and the firmly drawn line wasn’t diminished by his stay in this country of out-of-focus contours, and I believe on the contrary that his viewpoint broadened and enriched the Finnish art scene with new aesthetic and artistic impetuses.

Petr Řehoř is a painter of figural compositions, perfect portraits and conceptually arranged exhibitions. The painter walks and finds his themes in the real world which surrounds and directly affects him. His subject matters therefore logically possess a socially expressive personal character, they touch upon questions about our culture in confrontation with the hectic and rapid pace of the present world.

During the eighties, the painter enriched his artistic language with a new principle: by inserting letters into his paintings. Letters have gradually become art important attribute of his expression, he plays ironically with them and puts single letters together while often altering their original semantics. Thus he accents the question why letters, clearly meant at first as a means of communication and understanding, become in the wrong hands a means of mutual intolerance and hate. His play with the letters becomes an internal form of a message. Thanks to their colour, composition and placement on the canvas or their movement in space, and thanks to the specific expressive formation and transformation of the letters, the symbols of the alphabet gain a new meaning and content.

To intensify this means of expression, Petr Řehoř  often uses different media (e.g. photography, classical painting and drawing…) which he accompanies with artifacts from the real world. He sensitively superimposes and combines all of this. The resulting tension and clash of the chosen media, together with his imagination and the outside real world complement the painter’s authenticity and vitality. His technically perfect control in handling and combining different media, is not by any means a sign of Řehoř ’s confusion or inability to express his thoughts in a reduced artistic form. On the contrary, the painter always chooses an adequate form which allows for moves and transfers, and at the same rime offers an inexhaustible number of possibilities of an unusually-divided and fragmented space. It often leads to our amazement that when it comes to the statement contained in his work: not only, ’so little was said’, but that ’so little can be said’. These words by Gilles Deleuz vouch that the work, artistic expression and latest developments of Petr Řehoř have their philosophical and ethical foundation which he transforms with his imagination so that it becomes an expression of a highly sophisticated personal statement.

His artistic expression thus always exceeds the momentariness of theatre mundi, and by the sensitive choice and the structure of its subject matter, it is always supported by an internal essence and higher order.

Petr Svoboda, 2006