Roman Ondak: The Source Of Art Is In The Life Of A People

Art, Installation
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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A sawn-up tree, four blackboards and some illustrations from a 1960s primary school textbook: that’s what Slovakian artist Roman Ondak’s new show consists of. Each of these elements refers in some way to time and its passing. So the tree is in 100 slices, which have significant events from the last 100 years on them, and a new slice will be hung on the wall each of the 100 days the show lasts. Neat! It’s a potted history, kind of, with a bit of dendrochronology thrown in, and maybe a nice bonfire at the end.

Meanwhile, the drawings from the schoolbook consist of the kind of rules it wouldn’t do certain Time Out writers any harm to remember: ‘interesting beginning… keep to the topic… interesting ending’. They’ve been overlaid with contemporary scrawls by local teenagers, including a drawing of a bus which says ‘Klein Calvin’ on the side, and the word ‘lesbian’, which I enjoyed. The blackboards have the heads of ladles set in them, like the phases of the moon.  

But the best bit was in the gallery already: a marquetry floor which Ondak has uncovered to reveal the title of the show: ‘The Source of Art Is in the Life of A People’. Maybe he’s saying that art is all around us and inside us and beneath our feet and in the everyday and in that which will one day be gone forever. I don’t know. I’m just trying to think of an interesting ending.



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