Model For a System of Questions about Islamic Carpets by Tomas Hlavina
Tomas Hlavina is one of the artists who associate their creative intuition with a really critical way of thinking, which enables him to go in his work into the artistic analysis of philosophical and religious systems, as these do not inspire him only by their outer forms, but also by their inward structures and common features.
One of the examples of his not letting be misled by a possible simplicity and of his effort to give preference to more demanding approaches is his Model For a System of Questions about Islamic Carpets. The result is a group of five installations compiled of simple geometrized elements made of non spectacular, nearly colorless materials, supplemented by questions derived from reading the Koran and sorted according to their complexity. As if Tomas Hlavina, with his reserved processing free of accidental emotions, left out of consideration the material, as well as the bodiness of the creative act in itself, in order to better depict the general structures. Purposefully, he omits the first-plan visual inspiration to which the Islamic art with its rich ornamentation invites. He gives preference to a speculative and rationalized approach which, nevertheless, is not short of proper plastic qualities. While reflecting upon the Koran, he does not let himself be guided by the idea of this nearly poetic book that has its source in a deep religious experience in which emotions are ruling over the logic and the system, but the experience stimulates him to reflect.
In these installations, the world of the Islamic culture is presented in forms of wooden prisms with pits, plastic plates with cuts, classical vessels linked by means of transmissions, a system of cords and plastic tubes with balls inside and a linage of knots, each of these forms being completed by a collection of questions.
In these installations, the Islamic carpets happen to become examples of general logic structures. Viewing the images of paradises thrust in their patterns, he discovers that the ornaments are not a mere aesthetic filler of the surface; he discovers that their basis might hide inside a logic ontology, that the ornaments might reveal the way the sphere of logos, from which all the things - being endowed by a meaning - arise, is structured. The Koran becomes a source of intellectual schemes, source of topics to the whole collection of questions complementing the installations, source of simple questions that can be answered unambiguously, as well as of those that lead us out of the limits of the logic discourse. I guess, however, that neither the latter cross the sphere of the meaning, as their aim is not to reveal paradoxes of thinking but to prove that questions without answer (unfilled statements) demonstrate the boundary sphere of the language and of its meanings. The fact that we always somehow answer such questions without being able to exhaust their meaning or come to a definitive answer is, at the same time, the reflection of a potential inexhaustibility of arts as such; inexhaustibility that does not display by itself demanding certain efforts, not only the contemplation or the receptivity, which both depend, more or less, on us.
Through his rationalized and abstractionist approach Tomas Hlavina analyses the Koran and the patterns of the Islamic carpets into some kind of mental sectors and then making use of these to compose a systematized, though not intellectually closed whole, which enables him to reveal, by means of artistic means, the sphere of logos in which the meaning of the word and the image are being formed. The possibility of searching such a sphere is, by the way, indicated in the Koran itself, as the Koran says: the God had sent down Torah and Gospels before He sent down the Koran, and for Him, the Book is original; it means, among other things, that this Book is the meaning that precedes texts and the texts do not express the whole meaning. This meaning interpreted metaphysically is not only more original - from the historical point of view - but it is also an ontologically primary ideal formation that can be linked up to the sensual aspect, though it does not need to do it, for such a connection can not add anything to it, it can only make it more obscure.
A pure metaphysical interpretation of the work of Tomas Hlavina would be, on one side, an extreme interpretation, but on the other side, this metaphysical and abstractionist aspect is a sort of intellectual background of most of his works. Through his installations, he is able to reveal the logic structure of the ideal formation getting closer to it than by using a purely figurative expression, which is always too related to the sensuality. This ideality can be expressed by specific artistic means for regarding the pre-linguistic ideality, even though only partially, as it is, at the same time, the pre-expressive ideality.