Milan Houser

11. 3. – 21. 4. 2022

Curator: Jan Dotřel

Relic radiation, or cosmic electromagnetic light, comes from all directions in our known universe. The origin of this term comes from the word relic, which has a more spiritual meaning and represents the material remains from the lives of blessed persons, saints or prophets. These relics are meant to prove directly to the faithful the presence of the saints in the physical world. A similar perspective can be taken on relic radiation, which is a remnant of one of the earliest periods of the universe, the period just after the Big Bang. At this time, the universe was a dense and hot substance called plasma (ionized gas), which is also the fourth state of matter that makes up 99% of the observed atomic matter in the universe. The Planck spacecraft was designed to be able to image traces of this ancient plasma to create a relic radiation map. This map takes the form of variously dense graining, which was the main inspiration for the site-specific installation of Milan Houser’s Plasmatix exhibition.

Milan Houser’s work can be defined as an artistic experiment based mainly on three basic building blocks. The first of these is the artist’s grounding in objects rather than painting, although the dominant part of Milan Houser’s work consists of hanging paintings. These canvases, however, have a basis in thinking far beyond gestural painting. In the same way, the artist transcends boundaries in the case of glass vases – a very traditional discipline, which, however, can be seen in the Plasmatix exhibition metamorphosed into a monumental glass sculpture. The second very essential building block of Milan Houser’s work is material experimentation. At the beginning of all Houser’s paintings is the specific matter of laboratory varnish, in which other processes subsequently take place. This fluid platform is subjected to another very important variable, which is a relatively long time. In fact, the sedimentary process of creation can take several years in the case of large canvases. Another significant material used by Milan Houser is various types of metals, which are found in the form of microscopic shavings in both the paintings and the aforementioned vases. These small particles of metal, in conjunction with long time, slowly begin to move and rearrange themselves in the lacquer pools thanks to the earth’s magnetism, creating procedural patterns whose visuality reflects the beauty of the natural world itself. Again, what is important about metals is their very ancient time of formation, which can be traced back more than 4.6 billion years ago in the collisions of neutron stars. This cosmological information is very important to Milan Houser and significantly influences his artistic thinking and, last but not least, we can say that it forms the third building block of his work. It is the knowledge of physical laws and their application to artistic processes that makes Milan Houser’s work a remarkable phenomenon.

The basic art historical method of iconographic analysis of an image begins with the division of the plan into foreground and background. In the case of the Plasmatix exhibition, Milan Houser chose the aforementioned graining as the background for the images themselves, which metaphorically refers to the form of a map of relic radiation – that is, the history and structure of the universe. Against this background, the paintings are hung, their essence is based on the earth’s magnetism, the sedimentation of individual layers and a very long time. We are thus witnessing several different physical processes of which Milan Houser is aware and subsequently transforms them into his artistic strategy. Important for this strategy is the observation of the natural world, which we try to understand more deeply through art.

Milan Houser is an artist with whom Kvalitář has been collaborating since its beginning, so you can find his work in the exhibition archive and in the online depository.