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Lukáš Karbus
Fractured Side
16. 3. - 6. 5. 2017
curated by Jiří Havlíček

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A forest is an area where trees grow. Dense forests gradually became normalized vegetation zones, and this simple definition is almost an oxymoron. Scientists have recently questioned the origins of the Amazon rainforest, and the biggest vanishing wilderness in the world suddenly became a mere unkempt, domesticated space.

Contemporary architecture, at least symbolically, tries to respond to environmental changes. A few years ago, high-rise buildings with planted trees were constructed in the center of Milan, Italy. Forested skyscrapers, which use the built-up area on several levels simultaneously, carry the literal name Bosco Verticale - Vertical Forest. Horizontal forests also exist. In the beginning of the cartoon The Mole in Town, we see the idyllic natural scenery, which is disrupted by the sound of a chainsaw.
A close up of a falling tree shifts to an aerial view of a clearing with fallen pines. We see a monochromatically tuned image in shades of green, a forest taken apart into individual building modules. Cut. Bulldozers appear on the horizon, and the construction of the city begins. Beneath the cobblestones is an invisible forest.

In Lukáš Karbus’s large-scale watercolors, we find a similar fragmentation of the basic building block of a forest, the tree. Multiple trunks, geometrized crowns, abstracted leaf stalk. Individual elements appear in groups and independently. Accompanied with purely abstract shapes, they create the overall architecture of the image. Dynamic landscapes, like a Romantic painting, become a mirror of subjective experience.

The visible similarity with nature varies depending on the artist’s internal positioning. In place of photographically faithful images of the surrounding terrain, Karbus captures a full reflection of momentary associations. Straight clean edges pass through blurred boundaries - daydreaming merges with reality. According to Jacques Lacan, the real is a traumatic blank space. It is an invisible residue that we notice only through the cracks and gaps of evident reality. When we restrict ourselves to only what we see, we miss the fundamental. Boundaries of reality are as fuzzy as forest borders.

Jiří Havlíček