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Otis Laubert from the Collection of RFG

accompanied by launching of the book Otis Laubert Museum

2017-03-14 - 2017-04-22

Otis Laubert from the Collection of RFG

 

Giants of modern fine arts of the 20th century started building their museums in a great style during their lives. Salvador Dalí understood his museum in Figueres as a magnificent theatre, an intellectual Antoni Tápies as a museum, centre of education, Joan Miró in Barcelona and Hundertwasser in Vienna as a museum, a foundation to support arts. On European territory, they mushroomed in great numbers, tens of them were established. They were designed and built by acknowledged architects and top scholars of fine arts made them respected centres of culture.

In early 1970s, then at home unknown prospective giant Otis started to implement his vision about his own museum, modestly and cautiously in his sister´s flat in Bratislava. After years of moving and dwelling in different rented flats, he finally found asylum and environment for calm, systematic work. It was there where first collages, assemblages and objects were created. As in the period of normalisation perversity he was not allowed to exhibit, he hung them up on the walls at home, and  made first presentations for his closest friends. When later on his parents bought half a family house for him in Železničiarska Street in Bratislava, Otis established an exhibition area in one room, and named it Affiliated Branch of Guggenheim Museum, where in the conditions of cramped space he exhibited some of the key works of his creation, today considered to be Otis´s classics. And even more, just not to say that Otis is immodest and he exhibited and presented himself only, he also exhibited works of his friends, often blacklisted by the contemporary regime. He himself considers those very often risky activities in 1970s and 1980s to have been one of the most stimulating periods of his creation. Courageous flat exhibitions and meetings at Otis´s  not only were carrying spiritual message of professional fellowship, but in the period of nonsense they also became the  islands of positive thinking, an environment of open and creative discussion meetings. Maybe right these flat galleries with the period charisma and indisputable contribution to confrontational openness became the first, but definitely not the only Otis´s stimulus while thinking about establishing his own museum.

To make his long-lasting dream come true, a lot of time was to pass. Things started to break two years ago, when Otis succeeded in selling ten pictures, and he could use all the finances from the transaction to establish his museum. He did not hesitate much, rented one Old City flat in Laurinská Street, which he and three skilful helpers converted into an exhibition area, where they installed his pictures, a selection of his works from 1960s up to now. At that moment, Otis´s far-off dream to have his own gallery where for the first time he could exhibit his work in the long term was finally coming true.

A surprising discovery in the museum were less presented in dating the earliest works, which were realised in recent years according to old drafts.  It is nothing strange or extraordinary; it is a natural process of his creation. The explanation is simple. He has almost all most important inspirational sources recorded and stored in small notebooks – record books. There are tens of them, if not more, and in them he has been drawing all the ideas continuously since mid 1960s up to now, and according to them realizes in stages his objects. They have become the Ariadne´s ball of thread in his creation.  Without them, as he says, he would be lost.

When half a century ago he started filling in his diaries with drawings, he could hardly anticipate that all the outer and inner creative stimuli he was examining in close relation with visual outputs of the Fluxus movement, American pop-art, action and conceptual art and with first hints of mixing-up styles, an indication of the future post-modernism beginning. Otis, then in 1970, had accumulated such amount of ideas and creative energy, that his first performance on the unofficial scene became right away an extraordinary event for the circle of those in the know. His objects were attracting by their inventiveness, playfulness by their individual way of visual depiction. Since then, the range of his creation has been so wide that it is out of control of any unambiguous classification. The strength of contents and poetic excitement are not taken over from Dadaists, but a completion of their message with new vitality adds to his works above all-time dimension.

The Museum of Otis Laubert was writing its history for a comparatively short time. There is no doubt that the museum, whose existence in the history of museums was probably the shortest, had its importance. Not only that we could get to know a part of Otis´s work in detail, but also because during its existence he created an inspirational environment, reminiscent of the far-off period of his flat galleries where the spirit of creative enthusiasm and professional fellowship prevailed. The museum initiated admiring, enthusiastic reaction in the public, and a very positive one in media as well. Tatrabanka awarded The Museum of Otis Laubert its annual award as a tribute to the most important fine arts act of the year, and, paradoxically, in several months after having been awarded, the museum ended. If the patrons of Tatrabanka had had a bit more of imagination, they could have helped the museum, apart from the award, by a financial support on its operation, and they could have had an advertising envied by everyone. The time of the museum has expired, but let´s believe it was not Otis´s last word. Maybe we will be pleasantly surprised, again...

 

Marian Meško

Zámočnícka 8, 811 03 Bratislava   Opening hours: Tue - Sat 14:00 - 18:00   cell: +421 918 430 102, tel.: +421 2 544 14 346, email: info@rfg.sk, web: www.rfg.sk