Gallery Dittrich & Schlechtriem is pleased to present Birds and Wind, a solo exhibition featuring new work by painter Andrej Dúbravský. Over the past three years, working from his relocated home/studio in the Slovakian countryside, Dúbravský has drawn inspirations from a newfound rural perspective. The artist’s interest in the local phenomenon is furthered by his own flourishing garden in Rastislavice. The small cultivated plot of land—its fruits, vegetables, flowers, and wildlife all well documented on Instagram, positioned alongside provocative selfies—acts now as a metaphor for a more global concept. Currently living with and caring for several roosters and hens, Dúbravský observes their behavior and interactions. Birds and Wind features a series large-scale paintings and portraits depicting variations of cock fights, igniting a complex discussion of the male ego. Historically symbols of fertility and strength, Dúbravský studies the roosters’ anatomy and activity, conceptually relating their pre-programmed animal instincts to the male ego and testosterone-fueled, often destructive, exhibits of power and politics.
“The instinctual rivalry of the birds plays off and magnifies a cross-species homosocial competition—violent and sexual—soaked in intoxicating plumes of testosterone. In much the way that queer relations in recent years are forged within the grids of GPS-based hook-up apps, Dúbravský found in the roosters a potent symbol for the primal urges cooped up—destined to be hung low in defeat or erect in victory. Two paintings entitled ‘one rooster for you’ swing between vulnerable offering and indecent proposal. With the obvious metonym of the member sliding out of homophonic suggestion into the signifying compositional gesture, these cock pics present the artist in fauvist war-paint with the studied indifference of abstracted over-exposure—easy enough to imagine slinking back into the anonymity of nearby twinks as thrusting forward in hormonal domination. The tame tenderness in these images of sweet farmhands and their pride of a 4H summer screens the complexity of brawling sexual identity that extends across species and scents the stage of pheromonally charged conflict.
In a series of smaller paintings, the subject becomes refigured in various gestural experiments. Slightly improvised, as if conjured from affect not image logic, the spaces and relations between the figures bob around each other before dissolving in murky stains of drab olives and grays. Smashed up against the surface, the roosters curl and bend around apparitional heads of even younger boys, drowning in the subaqueous half-light of inchoate urges and self-conscious reflection. The lack of any courteous nod toward dimensional space casts a surreal shadow over the awkward, and perhaps disorganized, relations between desire and identity.”