Otto Placht: Storyteller
- Where: Montmartre Gallery
- When: February 19, 2013, 19:00 – March 24, 2013, 18:00
Exhibition of paintings by Otto Placht inspired by the mystical stories and contemporary life of the Shipibo Amazonian Indian tribe.
Otto Placht (*1962 Prague) is an artist known to the Czech public primarily as a “painter of the jungle”. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in the 1980s and from 1990 to 1993 was active at Jiří Načeradský’s Studio of Monumental Creation.
He originally focused on producing works based on fractal and chaos theory.
In Miami in 1993 Placht came across paintings by the artist Pablo Amaringo inspired by the hallucinogen ayahuasca. He was so captivated by Amaringo’s work that he travelled to Pucallpa in Peru, where he lived for several years in the jungle with the Shipibo tribe, whose aesthetic has had a marked influence on him. As he himself put it: “I ended up at simple, geometric skeletons and I didn’t know how to liven things up. I was attracted to spontaneous painting and I felt that in the jungle there would be the shem that would bring the skeleton to life and wrap it in living tissue. And in the end that living tissue tore the skeleton apart completely.”
The first exhibition of Placht’s Amazonian paintings took place at Galerie Václava Špály in 1997. Since then he has exhibited regularly. He lives part of the time in Prague and part of the time in Pucallpa, where he has taught as a visiting professor at the local university.
At Galerie Montmartre Otto Placht is showing a series of paintings from this year entitled Kosmovize (Cosmovision). He assumes the role of a storyteller who has travelled between scattered Indian clans telling old stories and myths and serving as a unifying element of the tribe. In his oil paintings this ancient culture blends naturally with the present, becoming perhaps a kind of modern Peruvian mythology seen through the artist’s eyes. Foundational myths, such as one about the creation of plant life, are depicted, as are other myths alive among the aborigines to this day. An example is the legend of the sirens said to inhabit the local lake Yarinacocha and drag people beneath its surface. At the same, we encounter “postmodern” Indian society – tiny, chubby Shipibo tribesmen dancing and drinking alcohol in late-night bars.
Though Kosmovize swarms with figures that are not typical of Placht’s work, we can still make out the artist’s world with absolute certainty. It comprises gnarly stories of creation and life, diverse and parallel perspectives, and flowing forms that grow like vegetation one into the next, swallowing each other up. These are multilayered, overcrowded stories based on the incredibly complicated structure of life that the jungle represents.
As Otto Placht says: “The Amazon is an esoteric world hidden in the carpet of the primeval forest. Space is disappearing there, and the way of understanding is changing. There are no cardinal directions and you’re always wandering in circles. Everything between life and death takes place, in the earth, in the water, in the mud, in the air between the leaves, and in the crowns of the trees.”