Michael Rittstein's painting exhibition at the Trafo Gallery presents a selection of paintings from several cycles of recent years (Tarzan the Kangaroo, Mexico, India, The Time Machine). Since his last retrospective show in the Riding Hall of the Prague Castle in 2019, the author returns from his Brnířov studio to Prague again to present previously unexhibited works, including two monumental seven-meter formats.
Michael Rittstein is one of the most actively working artists in our country, regardless of the number of works he has created over many decades of his creative life or the generation to which he belongs by the date of his birth. His authorial approach is systematic, with a pre-thought-out concept and is the result of many years of passion for telling stories, recording fleeting moments, bizarre stories that may have happened in the world of people or animals, materializing emotions, experienced through oneself and connected with the compulsive need to constantly observe the surrounding events that start his imagination and stimulate his sometimes sarcastic sense of humor.
The book and exhibition of the same name, Kangaroos Tarzan, represent the last four creative years of Rittstein as an imaginative documentarian of his traveling expeditions to our civilization's cradles in time and space. As an admirer of historical events and their contribution to the development of mankind, in his last travels he chose India and Mexico as his destination, and in his memories also Australia, as the locations of his imaginary stories (Tarzan the Kangaroo comic) or just as an attentive and empathetic viewer of the situations and details that they take place around him. Whether they are garbage collectors, children playing on an Indian street, or a resting tramp or a mechanic from a Mexican car repair shop, or hunting a mammoth and other wild
animals in ancient prehistoric times, these ephemeral fragments of ordinary human lives that take place around us today and every day and we tend to pass them by without noticing due to the accelerated rhythm of time, Rittstein chooses as the main actors of his canvases, often with a careful study of movement and materializes so traces of these experiences with eternal validity. With the same dedication and playfulness, he turns to micro-stories of various animal species of mainly Czech provenance, a kind of animal farm from the present. As an almost lifelong resident of the West Bohemian village of Brnířov, of which he is a proud patron, he is surrounded by animals, which in his eyes and in his paintings receive respect, honor and qualities comparable to the human species.
As both a humanist and a Darwinist, Rittstein perceives the importance of the balance of all living creatures, and his paintings are proof of this. A thousand and one movements and stories of a domestic cat, which is his daily inspiration, curious mice on a trip to a modern art gallery, women as intimate friends of creatures of the animal kingdom are already a significant element for the author and are completely inseparable from him. At times, grotesque productions of common human-animal stories from Rittstein's imagination, set up in a scenographic manner, prove his joy in life and his love of fables.
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual publication with an introduction by Blanka Čermáková, summarizing the author's approach and work from the last decades, an interview with the author about his approach to painting with a look back at his personal history, and a selection of works from the last four years. The author of the graphic design of the publication is Jana Vahalíková.