Black & White (missing) 2018, Dominican monastery, Prague

The works White Star (fuse box) und Black & White (missing) address two room niches whose visual appearance in the monastery’s architecture are very different but which have a shared genesis. Both niches originated from bricked up vaulted arches when the rooms were repurposed.

In the second vaulted arch of the refectory, which is now used as a space for cultural events, architecture and image have come into a conflict. For when the former domestic wing of the monastery was partitioned off and the arch was bricked up, three Baroque frescos were walled over and cut off in such a way that they were robbed of one third of their pictorial surface.

With the Baroque adaptation of a radiant oval of light, the foyer of the refectory, which Josef Pleskot reconstructed in 2016, presents itself as a kind of minimalistic painting. However, on closer inspection the central niche in the room has a flaw. A fuse box enters the image of the architecture in such a prominent and unintentional way that one is tempted to want to blank out the functional element.

Black & White (missing)

The conflict between architecture and image in the niche of the refectory determines the content-related arrangement of the work.

In a first step, by means of a reproduction of the niche painted a deep black and slightly smaller, the existing yet partially destroyed frescoes are completely blanked out. In a second step, these, and likewise their historically separated parts, are “reconstructed” with white paint. “Folding out” the missing areas from the void is an operation that becomes palpable on the straight edges of the niche’s side walls. However, this is stretched to its limits on the curved line of the vaulted arch.

The impossibility of the reconstruction causes a black area (White Missing) to come about between the two halves of the picture in the cusp of the niche. And the pictorial surfaces that correspond with each other at right angles make reference to the problems associated with a perspectival depiction, as can also be observed on the neighboring ceiling frescos.