Born in the Czech Republic, Kudlacek comes from a Catholic family with roots in the old Eastern Europe. The different cultural histories of East and West, as well as the confrontation between faith and reason, informs all of her work. Her exquisite fine art prints and hand-made screen-prints combine the artist’s own photographs and drawings, made to simulate old engravings or paintings of flora and fauna, with original historical scientific drawings. The work explores the age-old story of our expulsion from the Garden of Eden in light of the scientific knowledge through which we now understand life, death and dreams of immortality. Glossy dark flowers, butterflies with their ghosts and shadows, snakes, and ambiguous natural forms tumble across the paper, crowd the picture plane, or spill over frames which are unable to contain them. The forms are flamboyant and excessive, yet the petals are aged and curling and the colours autumnal. What is abundant and alive is on the point of decay.
Rendered in a late Northern European Baroque style, these prints are profoundly contemporary. Historical dilemmas are joined to current ones through form and content. The circular Renaissance Tondo, symbolizing birth, life and eternity, evokes the petrie dish or the view through a microscope. The notorious Tulipmania of 17th century Holland has sinister echoes in our own time of consumerist excess and pending collapse. The work hints that the promise of the Garden of Eden, like the promise of consumerism, is an illusion.
There is something manic in the way the artist gathers together her flowers and butterflies and spills them out before us, an abundance of life on the brink of death, forewarning, perhaps, of the ecological disasters we face. Melancholy and loss permeates these powerful images. They are full of tenderness too, and the longing for wholeness and the ideal which lies at the heart of the myth of Eden. Ultimately, this body of work is a celebration of beauty and wonder.
Renata’s work has been exhibited widely across Europe whilst actively working for various art and education initiatives including project management and curation. She is co- founder & director of the BBA Gallery and holds a Master of Art in Fine Art / Printmaking from the Royal College of Art London.
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