After Van Gogh

Eugenio Percossi

20.03. – 14.04.13

Eugenio Percossi (1974), an Italian intermedia artist living in the Czech Republic, is a living proof that art knows no boundaries. What matters is to have something to say and know how. His art is, above all, the art of survival: especially surviving “himself”, his problems and uncertainties. Percossi often thematizes his own anxiety and depressions that have led him to several suicide attempts. An inseparable part of his works are series of self-portraits in different forms – ranging from a sagging sofa to a personal archive of neurotically deformed small things to large canvases with thousands of handwritten repeated messages. A cycle with hypertoxic oleander plants that Percossi complemented with expressive self-portraits made of plasticine and called it After Van Gogh fall well in this line. His work also includes pictures of objects that represent Eugenio in times of his nervous breakdowns, such as a remote control, boxes with antidepressants or a joint. The portraits maintain the pastose nature of Vincent’s paintings as well as colourfulness, but instead of “high” oil-painting he uses material that is typical for child art and the use itself subconsciously evokes a light-hearted smile. Choosing this post-impressionist superstar was not a matter of chance. Percossi does not misuse Van Gogh tendentiously as the usual icon of a modern art pioneer or embodiment of romanticized image of an artist’s stormy destiny, but rather on the contrary: as the epitome of unsuccessful man, a loser tortured by personal doubts and despair, who ended up committing a suicide. What Percossi has in common with Van Gogh is, apart from the feelings of despair, fascination by his own face. Simply said, his artistic research represents a parallel path on which he tries to find the implicit presence of death concealed in the mirroring of his own self. Eugenio Percossi’s works are often closely linked to the iconography of his personal life, as is the case with this exhibition. Naturally, the oleander also has a peculiar meaning – a beautiful and traditional ornamental plant and also a weapon that Eugenio unsuccessfully tried to use against himself. His work is further characterized by the fact that it is rational and emotional at the same time. Therefore, I cannot refrain from writing that while the decision to leave this world is made with the head, oleander poison attacks directly the heart.

Text by Radek Wohlmuth