In Art on Paper, Lyle Rexer examines Zdenek Kosek‘s ballpoint pen drawings which were recently on view at Calvin Morris. “Born in what was then Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) in 1949, Kosek worked as a typographer and drew occasional satiric cartoons. At about the age of forty he became afflicted with schizophrenia and had to quit his job. The particular form of his illness was the conviction that he had a duty to master meteorological problems and had a central role to play in the maintenance of universal order. (His obsessive charting of weather patterns resembles that of Henry Darger.) Under the influence of this condition, Kosek began to produce the drawings for which he is now known, including the seventeen in the Cavin-Morris exhibition.
“I use the term ‘drawing’ advisedly, because these works hover between map, diagram, chemical formula, and sketch. Compositionally they appear as conglomerations of cartoon thought bubbles, with directional arrows, dotted connecting lines, numbers, and phrases. Unlike the paranoid but plausible mappings of the late Mark Lombardi, Kosek’s figures do not so much describe a set of relations as act them out, or perhaps constitute them. As with an outsider like Wölfli, one gets the impression that the artist (if that is what Kosek is) may believe in a preexisting order but that this order keeps shifting as the drawings are made. What gives the productions their desperate poignancy is the sense that order is ceaselessly unmade by the very intelligence that seeks to articulate it.” Read more.
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