Dimensions: 17x24 cm
Tomas Rajlich (Jankov, Czech Republic, 1940) is internationally recognised as one of the most influential figures in European abstract painting
When he appeared on the scene in the first half of the 1970s, he was often associated with Minimalism and Fundamental Painting, the term coined on the occasion of the exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in 1975, in which Rajlich participated. The movement included Robert Ryman, Robert Mangold, Agnes Martin and the early works of Brice Marden and Gerhard Richter.
The large-scale retrospective of the work of Rajlich in the present volume has been conducted in dialogue with certain key works of Italian masters of abstract art selected by the artist himself (Getulio Alviani, Rodolfo Aricò, Agostino Bonalumi, Enzo Cacciola, Antonio Calderara, Nicola Carrino, Gianni Colombo, Pietro Consagra, Dadamaino, Piero Dorazio, Lucio Fontana, Marco Gastini, Giorgio Griffa, Riccardo Guarneri, Paolo Icaro, Osvaldo Licini, Piero Manzoni, Fausto Melotti, Bruno Munari, Martino Oberto, Claudio Olivieri, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Mauro Reggiani, Antonio Scaccabarozzi, Paolo Scheggi, Turi Simeti, Atanasio Soldati, Giuseppe Uncini, Nanni Valentini, Claudio Verna, Gianfranco Zappettini) : from an introduction to the concretism of the 1930s to the postwar period, from the preconceptual and perceptual explorations of the 1960s to Op Art and the new painting of the 1970s and 1980s, unravelling a novel and original line in Italian abstract art.
Awareness that the present has its roots in the more or less distant past is a fact that should by no means be taken for granted. And so many phenomena today display an indifference to what went before them and the experiences of preceding periods. Or even, more banally, to what happened yesterday.
Memory is a collective value that must be cherished. This too, and not just to entertain, to give pleasure to the eyes and the mind, is a raison d’existence of any museum.
A museum visit is one of the obligatory stages of a culture that wants to preserve and be mindful of its own past, confident that it can teach us to be better.
Do artists look at the masters who preceded them to become better? They probably do. Certainly they are aware of growing. The exercise, and even the copy of the great masters is a practice that has been consolidated over the centuries and one that is respected by many artists today. Tomas Rajlich is one of these. It is an approach that shows not only humility – a quality of the great artists – but also intelligence.
Dazzled by the beauty of certain works in the collection of the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Genova, Villa Croce, during a visit in the summer of 2019, he has chosen to enter into dialogue with some of them with taste, intelligence, humility, pride and courage.
Whether by affinity or contrast, the artist offers us a dialogue, and thus a reflection. He invites us to stop and look. To think. To look at the past which becomes present. He helps us to look with new eyes at works that we may know and have studied, or reveals to the public little masterpieces by lesser-known artists.
In triggering a dialectical encounter – another sign of intelligence and openness – Rajlich’s gift to Genoa is an exhibition that is exceptional for its quality, size and beauty. It is the result of a collaboration between the artist and his favourite gallery in Genoa, Antonio Borghese’s ABC-ARTE, as well as curator Cesare Biasini and other scholars who offer critical focus and reflections on this work, namely Flaminio Gualdoni, Martin Dostál and Francesca Serrati.
It was my duty to ensure that this proposal was not only accepted, made possible and programmed within the three-year plan to relaunch the museum in 2020-2022, but also fully appreciated in every respect: as a sign of the vitality of a civic institution able to vary the more or less ‘easy’ areas of interest and proposals with Italian and foreign curators, from the youngest to the more established; as an opportunity for the Genoese and other publics to learn more; and as a chance to plunge for a few hours into the relaxing infinity of the magical abstraction of a major protagonist of European art of our time.
Thank you Tomas.
Advisor for Art and Cultural Heritage
Genoa City Council
Tomas Rajlich is internationally recognised as one of the most influential figures in European painting. He is an artist of relentless integrity who holds a primary position among the most important living artists of the postwar period and contemporary painters of his generation. He emerged in the early 1970s and is often associated with Minimalism and Fundamental Painting – a term coined in 1975 on the occasion of the exhibition of that name in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and in which Rajlich took part. The movement includes Robert Ryman, Robert Mangold, Agnes Martin and the early works of Brice Marden and Gerhard Richter.
It is through this artist and collectors like Maria Cernuschi Ghiringhelli that we can today document the key events in our history. I would like to thank the Museo di Arte Contemporanea of Villa Croce and the members of the institutions that have enabled us to support the implementation of this project.
ABC-ARTE Gallery Director