Augmented Reality Art Exhibition
1-30, June 2023
February – March, 2022
Curator: Radek Wohlmuth
U měšťanského pivovaru 6a,
118 00 Prague, Czech republic
Photo: Otto Palán
Some artworks in this exhibition are digitally extended.
To experience them, install the Artivive app on your phone.
Open the app and point your phone at the marked artworks to make them come to life.
About the Creation of the World (Bones, Blood, Meat, Water, Gold and Inner Fire)
Mixed media on canvas, 160x170cm, augmented reality layer
© Radka Bodzewicz
Radka Bodzewicz / Paradise Lost
With her latest project created for Prague’s Bold Gallery, the intermedia artist Radka Bodzewicz (born in 1991) concludes her exhibition trilogy, which responds to the messages of several fundamental texts concerning the spiritual journey of humankind and updates their relevance for today. The theme was initially introduced through Dante’s Divine Comedy (Bold Gallery, 2020), followed by the middle part titled In illo tempore, based on Mircea Eliade’s renowned study The Myth of the Eternal Return (Václav Špála Gallery, 2022). The current culmination of the series offers a visual reflection inspired by John Milton’s epic poem from 1667, which elaborates on the expulsion from Eden as described in the Old Testament book of Genesis. It was not on the Index of Forbidden Books of the Catholic Church until 1900 for nothing.
However, the emissary of hell is not depicted in its ‘true form’ in Radka Bodzewicz’s paintings. Sometimes it manifests as a multiplied animal creature resembling reptiles or hybrid mythical monsters, with the term ‘chimera’ being perhaps the most apt description – not necessarily as name for an exact physical reconstruction based on an ancient model, but rather as a general term for mirage or delusion. Other times it manifests as a prying eye lurking in the background or in the form of ‘menacingly’ darkened coloring. Radka Bodzewicz continues to employ a meticulous multiplicity of elements in her compositions, avoiding individual signs. Her paintings collectively maintain the characteristic essence of mental maps, dis/organized visual labyrinths that un/visibly unveil the enigma of human spirituality before our very eyes. Within them, the devil remains concealed in the details. There is one more thing aspect to consider – a duality of opposites that silently etches itself into every human action, every word, every decision. In this particular case, the traditional theme serves as a metaphor for the existential crisis resulting from the loss of fundamental certainties and security, as well as the profound awareness of our own mortality and the inevitable nature of death.
Paradise – a kind of personal oasis of happiness – can naturally be, and is, different for everyone. It can be a physical place, but also a feeling or a cherished memory. Often, it is an idealized and emotionally infused concept that may not align with reality, yet it serves as a crucial stabilizing or harmonizing point for one’s identity and life balance. Its loss not only disrupts this fragile state and acts as a perpetually present destructive force, but also burdens and weakens it by intensifying ‘withdrawal symptoms.’ Losing paradise is a deeply personal experience on one hand, while on the other, it is widely shared, affecting everyone due to the loss of something essential in life.
The exhibition revolves around the twelve books of the poem, each represented by a corresponding canvas that serves as the foundation of the display. The loose order of the paintings, which does not adhere to the strict canonical storyline, also aligns with the principle of literary prefiguration. Another formal element of the poem, reflected in the painting style, is the characteristic repetitions that resemble the multiplication of small motifs in the pictorial space. Radka Bodzewicz’s paintings have also undergone some changes compared to the previous period. Alongside the usual almost square format, there are types with painted hinged wings resembling an altar ark, which she first experimented with during last year’s Tapas project at the Lapidarium Gallery in Broumov, as well as pillows featuring her own fabric prints. The artist has also started using linen as a support for her paintings, which possesses different properties compared to the usual cotton. The translucent gesso, in turn, brings the visual qualities of the material into play and creates a contrasting environment to the pigments. This transformation has also impacted the paintings itself, accentuating color with, for example, the ‘flickering’ of small drawing parts that visually interact with each other. Moreover, the figures, often agents in the artwork, dissolve into ethereal beings with a fabric’s varying absorbency, rather than representing physical individuals with flesh and bone.
For the first time, the perception of these canvases is enhanced not only through augmented reality, which adds an active and dynamic layer to the paintings, but also through the integration of other innovative media tools, such as video mapping or virtual reality. Radka Bodzewicz does not attempt to adhere strictly to biblical architecture as the cornerstone of the original story. While she incorporates symbols that intrigue her, she reshapes the narrative to reflect a personal destiny and imbue it with a genuine sense of life. This parallels Milton’s approach in his poem, where he also responds to the circumstances of the time, such as Puritan philosophy, the Great Fire of London, and the plague.
Through her visual exploration of the contrasting aspects of good and evil, imprinted in the animalistic and divine nature of human beings who are neither wholly angelic nor entirely demonic, the artist raises unsettling questions about human existence, the way how it is perceived, and, most importantly, how individuals cope with the adversity of fate and the immense pressures of everyday life. Eventually, it is not just about finding solutions for the here and now, but primarily about the future, where both heaven and hell permeate our human reality.
Curator of the exhibition