Eliška Bartek followed Hodler's trail in 2009, and went on a painterly journey through the Swiss Alps around Bern.
Unlike Hodler, however, she does not show the eternal grandeur of this undeniably majestic nature where the sky above and the mountains below are in rhytmic consonance. Limiting the spectrum to black and white, and applying a distinct scraping technique, Bartek makes reference to the tradition of expressionist woodcut. The mountain landscape appears in mystical flares from a black depth, it seems at the same time energetic and raw. Bartek confronts Hodler's rhythmical mountainscape with a nervously pulsating nature. Timeless beauty and quietness are answered by a heightened momentary presence: ecstatic unleashing instead of spheric symbolism.
Bartek is aware of the tragic biographical weight that clings to the painting of the „Stockhornkette mit Thunersee“, which had been forcefully taken from the owners who died in Auschwitz, and is still subject of a legal battle concerning art theft by the National Socialists. Hodler's peaceful world is tainted, in a way, by the atrocities and deep human suffering of the Second World War. It can no longer be contemplated with „innocent“ eyes. In Bartek's work the once cosmic idyll of Thunersee appears charged with the disturbing experience of death: as if darkness and light were enmeshed
in a struggle.
The overexposure of the Alps through the tourist industry and commercially produced images has lead to a thorough disenchantment with this dramatic countryside. In Bartek´s work, the apparent grasp and domination over nature dissolve. Nature regains its dark side and once more appears unfamiliar and uncanny, presented to us in cryptic and ecstatic mountain images as existential, erratic forcefields.
* Kunsthaus Zug
Haldemann, Matthias. 'Ghost fires'. Berge Versetzen. Eliška Bartek. 1st ed. Berlin: Photo Edition Berlin, 2010