Perfect Society

ROMAN ONDAK / SVK

*1966, lives and works in Bratislava

Without a doubt, Ondak could be described as a realist who derives his art from everyday life and then smuggles it back in again. Behind this gesture is his desire to "deconstruct the idea of ​​the artist as a romantic figure." In his contribution to Showing True Colours, Ondak comes across as a pragmatic homeowner who recycles leftover materials for upcoming home repairs. His work’s metamorphosis from scrap metal to a work of art is more complex and, above all, more laborious than it initially appears. The copper pipes that make up the central image of the flag come from the artist’s house in Bratislava where they were used for central heating. When they proved defective and had to be taken out, the artist painstakingly cut thousands of uniformly long pieces from the pipes. He then developed a new order and purpose for them. In Perfect Society, the straight pipes reappear in a nearly perfect circle, organized systematically, with those of larger diameter grouped in the middle, while the smaller ones move towards the edges in order of size. The bent pipe pieces form a border around the circle as if to hold the central structure intact.

The title Perfect Society indicates that Ondak’s piece may be read as an allegory of a social and political order. While the outward uniformity and beauty of the pipes might suggest a functional or even ‘perfect’ utopia, the traces of disorder on the edges evoke notions of oppression, dysfunctionality, or structural decay. The formerly three-dimensional network of pipes previously used to transport heat through the rooms of the artist’s house has been tidily rearranged, suggesting the structure of a honeycomb or sunflower. Bees and flowers are metaphors for energy – for the heat generated by a beehive and the sun. Above all, they stand for models of social interaction, in which each unit contributes to the well-being of the whole.

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