The Weird in the Wonted: Lukáš Malina’s “Snowman’s Skeleton”

Lukáš Malina’s “Snowman’s Skeleton” @ Perla till June 17

There is an abandoned paper factory situated on the southern outskirts of Prague, and it is temporarily home to the wonderfully weird works of Lukáš Malina. Malina is unsettling, startling, unapologetically dark. His paintings, brimming with alien-like figures amidst otherwise typical scenes, with creatures canopying over frightened young men, are almost dreamlike.

The factory is called Perla, and it is located in Vrané nad Vltavou, overlooking the right bank of the Vltava River. Its dirty, abandoned walls are the setting for a new breed of National Gallery, with an eclectic mix of dust, mismatched furniture, and, of course, Malina’s exhibition, “Snowman’s Skeleton.” The arena is unbearably appropriate for the exhibition; it’s a gigantic, naturally-lit warehouse, with unfinished floors and exposed piping, and the art is displayed amidst trash, shards of glass, a broken down, grime-covered American car.

Malina’s work is similarly eerie, positing scenes of despair: a monstrous figure, with a mouth open so wide her jaw must be broken, lunges over a cliff to the fear of those below. The figures on the ground are near expressionless, created with brushstrokes of red and orange, and yet still their obvious horror is relevant. In another piece, a couple stands, undressed, in a blue abyss of ocean, apparently engaged in a loving embrace. But there is something wrong with these people; the man appears to be biting his lover’s face, not in a sensual way, but in a cannibalistic one. He has a face of white that appear¬s–albeit appropriately–skeletal.

“Snowman’s Skeleton” is a look into Malina’s dream world. Born in 1980 in Uhreské Hradištê, Malina in the exhibition’s press release says, “I dreamt it, and it happened like this and that is how it is in the painting.” A simple explanation for convoluted images, indicating a certain darkness in Malina’s dreams, an unsettling quality underlying a typically idealized form. In one particularly hypnotizing piece, Malina’s dreams give way to a scene in Prague, featuring one of the city’s quintessential trams. In front of the tram, a scene of distress takes place: Frieda Kahlo is fought over by an angry mob; a naked boy runs into the middle of the street; an alien-like figure smirks behind a skeleton, who is strangling a fearful-looking man. On the tram, a long female figure watches the seen unfold. And above, another skeleton peaks down on the chaos. The piece is disturbing, riveting, and near-impossible to look away from. The hoard gives the otherwise typical metropolitan scene a feeling of turmoil, of dread; it causes one’s breath to catch in his or her throat.

Malina’s work lives up to its name: it reveals the skeleton hidden within the jolly, ever-smiling snowman. Although dark, his paintings are also surreal, captivating. “Snowman’s Skeleton” is more than an art exhibit; it is a haunting experience and perfectly at home at Perla until June 17th.

For more visit www.facebook.com/narodnigalerie

Perla
Nádražní 101 
252 46 Vrané nad Vltavou


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