The Source of Art is in the Life of a People

Roman Ondak
September 29, 2016 – January 6, 2017

Awesome Rules of Language, 2016 (on the upper halves of the walls)

Textbook illustrations painted in acrylic on gallery walls, interventions by adolescents in graphite

A historical guidebook (Teaching the Language, 1960s) on social conduct is updated by the enactment of contemporary teenagers, opening up a conceptual schism between prescriptive codes and traces of lived experience. 

 

Four Moon Phases, 2016 (left)
Found blackboards, ladle bowls

Four blackboards salvaged from Roman Ondak’s native Slovakia introduce a hint of autobiographical content into the show but equally symbolize the passing down of knowledge from one generation to the next. 

 

Event Horizon, 2016 (floor and wall on the right)
Oak tree, stamped ink, acrylic paint, steel fixtures
On each day of the exhibition, a pre-sawn disk is separated from the trunk of an oak tree to reveal the delineation in ink of one of its age-defining rings and a key historical event which occurred in that year. 

 

At the center of the space is the original marquetry floor panel designed for the South London Gallery by Walter Crane for the gallery’s official opening in 1891, and unveiled by Roman Ondak on the occasion of his SLG exhibition.

 

Photo © Andy Keate

Awesome Rules of Language, 2016 (on the upper half of the wall)

Textbook illustrations painted in acrylic on gallery walls, interventions by adolescents in graphite

A historical guidebook (Teaching the Language, 1960s) on social conduct is updated by the enactment of contemporary teenagers, opening up a conceptual schism between prescriptive codes and traces of lived experience.

 

Four Moon Phases, 2016 (straight ahead)
Found blackboards, ladle bowls

Four blackboards salvaged from Roman Ondak’s native Slovakia introduce a hint of autobiographical content into the show but equally symbolize the passing down of knowledge from one generation to the next. 

 

On the floor at the center of the space is the original marquetry floor panel designed for the South London Gallery by Walter Crane for the gallery’s official opening in 1891, and unveiled by Roman Ondak on the occasion of his SLG exhibition.

 

Photo © Andy Keate

Awesome Rules of Language, 2016 (on the upper halves of the walls)

Textbook illustrations painted in acrylic on gallery walls, interventions by adolescents in graphite

A historical guidebook (Teaching the Language, 1960s) on social conduct is updated by the enactment of contemporary teenagers, opening up a conceptual schism between prescriptive codes and traces of lived experience. 

 

Event Horizon, 2016 (floor and wall on the right)
Oak tree, stamped ink, acrylic paint, steel fixtures

On each day of the exhibition, a pre-sawn disk is separated from the trunk of an oak tree to reveal the delineation in ink of one of its age-defining rings and a key historical event which occurred in that year. 

 

At the center of the space is the original marquetry floor panel designed for the South London Gallery by Walter Crane for the gallery’s official opening in 1891, and unveiled by Roman Ondak on the occasion of his SLG exhibition.

 

Photo © Andy Keate

Awesome Rules of Language, 2016 (on the upper half of the wall)

Textbook illustrations painted in acrylic on gallery walls, interventions by adolescents in graphite

A historical guidebook (Teaching the Language, 1960s) on social conduct is updated by the enactment of contemporary teenagers, opening up a conceptual schism between prescriptive codes and traces of lived experience. 

 

Event Horizon, 2016 (straight ahead)

Oak tree, stamped ink, acrylic paint, steel fixtures

On each day of the exhibition, a pre-sawn disk is separated from the trunk of an oak tree to reveal the delineation in ink of one of its age-defining rings and a key historical event which occurred in that year.

 

At the center of the space is the original marquetry floor panel designed for the South London Gallery by Walter Crane for the gallery’s official opening in 1891, and unveiled by Roman Ondak on the occasion of his SLG exhibition.

 

Photo © Andy Keate

Event Horizon, 2016 (detail)

Oak tree, stamped ink, acrylic paint, steel fixtures

On each day of the exhibition, a pre-sawn disk is separated from the trunk of an oak tree to reveal the delineation in ink of one of its age-defining rings and a key historical event which occurred in that year. 

 

Photo © Andy Keate

Awesome Rules of Language, 2016 (on the upper half of the wall)

Textbook illustrations painted in acrylic on gallery walls, interventions by adolescents in graphite

A historical guidebook (Teaching the Language, 1960s) on social conduct is updated by the enactment of contemporary teenagers, opening up a conceptual schism between prescriptive codes and traces of lived experience. 

 

Event Horizon, 2016 (floor and wall)
Oak tree, stamped ink, acrylic paint, steel fixtures
On each day of the exhibition, a pre-sawn disk is separated from the trunk of an oak tree to reveal the delineation in ink of one of its age-defining rings and a key historical event which occurred in that year. 

 

At the center of the space is the original marquetry floor panel designed for the South London Gallery by Walter Crane for the gallery’s official opening in 1891, and unveiled by Roman Ondak on the occasion of his SLG exhibition.

 

Photo © Andy Keate

Awesome Rules of Language, 2016 (on the upper half of the wall)

Textbook illustrations painted in acrylic on gallery walls, interventions by adolescents in graphite

A historical guidebook (Teaching the Language, 1960s) on social conduct is updated by the enactment of contemporary teenagers, opening up a conceptual schism between prescriptive codes and traces of lived experience. 

 

Event Horizon, 2016 (straight ahead)

Oak tree, stamped ink, acrylic paint, steel fixtures

On each day of the exhibition, a pre-sawn disk is separated from the trunk of an oak tree to reveal the delineation in ink of one of its age-defining rings and a key historical event which occurred in that year. 

 

At the center of the space is the original marquetry floor panel designed for the South London Gallery by Walter Crane for the gallery’s official opening in 1891, and unveiled by Roman Ondak on the occasion of his SLG exhibition.

 

Photo © Andy Keate

Event Horizon, 2016 (detail)

Oak tree, stamped ink, acrylic paint, steel fixtures

On each day of the exhibition, a pre-sawn disk is separated from the trunk of an oak tree to reveal the delineation in ink of one of its age-defining rings and a key historical event which occurred in that year. 

 

Photo © Andy Keate

The Source of Art is in the Life of a People

Roman Ondak
South London Gallery
September 29, 2016 – January 6, 2017
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For his first solo show in London for more than a decade, internationally acclaimed artist Roman Ondak presents an exhibition lasting one hundred days that brings together a new body of work exploring ideas around the passage of time and the intertwining of present and past. The exhibition title, The Source of Art is in the Life of a People, is taken from the inscription on the South London Gallery’s original nineteenth century marquetry floor designed by Walter Crane. Usually hidden from public view, Ondak has uncovered the floor to reveal it to the public for the first time in many years, harnessing the coincidence of past and present which underpins all the works within the show.

 

Symbolizing a period of one hundred years, on each of the hundred days of the exhibition a pre-sawn disk is separated from the trunk of an oak tree to reveal the delineation in ink of one of its age-defining rings alongside a stamped text identifying a key historical event which occurred in that year. The artist’s inevitably subjective selection of events exposes the impossibility of an objective, unbiased history, as well as the impact of teaching on our understanding and interpretation of the past.

 

Entitled Event Horizon, his central sculpture gradually evolves over the course of the show as the oak tree is incrementally transferred from floor to wall to create a notional calendar, setting the tone for other works in which the historic collides with the contemporary. High up on the gallery walls, in Awesome Rules of Language illustrations from ‘Teaching the Language’, a 1960s children’s text book which Ondak found in a second-hand bookshop, are reproduced on a huge scale. The book outlines principles and practices inherent in the teaching of language, as well as instructions on social codes of behaviour. Here the illustrations have been daubed with drawings and comments by adolescents living locally to the SLG, invited by Ondak to express whatever they chose to in the public arena of the gallery space, thereby injecting the outdated text book with alternative nuance and meaning. Harking back to school days in a very different way, four blackboards salvaged from Ondak’s native Slovakia introduce a hint of autobiographical content into the show but equally symbolize the passing down of knowledge from one generation to the next. In Four Moon Phases, the bowl of a ladle is inserted into each of the boards, positioned in sequence to symbolize four phases of the moon in a further reference to the passage of time and the perpetual oscillation between past and present which inevitably informs everyone’s existence.

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