The Glazed Sprinkler (Fila- Macho)

Miroslav Marcelli

L ́arroseur arrosé (The Sprinkler Sprinkled) - is originally a short film at the beginning of the history of film making. The plot is simple: a gardener is watering his garden when suddenly a naughty boy steps on his hose. Thinking that the hose is clogged, the gardener turns the end of the hose towards his face. At that moment, the boy lifts his leg and a jet of water hits the gardener’s face. The gardener chases the boy, catches him, and punishes him on the spot. Although Lumiere’s film originally went by another title, it was under this name that it passed into history as the first filmed burlesque. In French, the term arroseur arrosé has become an idiom used when someone wants to play a prank on somebody else but somehow becomes the victim of their own mischief.

Hopefully it does not seem improper to consider Rudolf Fila to be the sprinkler, as with his retouching, repainting and overpainting he has vigorously sprinkled all the images he has managed to get his hands on, whether they be reproductions of works by outstanding masters, book illustrations, or exhibition catalogues. So, when one day he got hold of the catalogue to the exhibition Contemporary Slovak Glass, he did not hesitate to aim a stream of coloured drops onto the images of the glass objects. Thus came into being Sprinkled Contemporary Slovak Glass - as he himself revised the original title. As a result, the contours of the exhibited glass objects that in the photographs were clearly cut off the background so that they could stand out in their particular forms, became blurred. Only their silhouette remained. This time sprinkler Fila has turned out to be an intruder that breaks into an entire universe of images as if it were his own garden. It is really tempting to use the term “the sprinkler sprinkled” for Palo Macho’s intervention, in which he glazed Fíla’s images. To some extent it would be justified as well, for he who usually spreads layers of colour over someone else’s images, filling them with motion and opening them to new contexts, has now been caught, immobilised and locked up. The idea that this is just some kind of revenge for the sprinkling and that the sprinkler himself got sprinkled, is just as appealing as it is simplistic. As a matter of fact, this idea would throw duobt on Macho’s glass compositions. There’s no denying that in them Macho covered Fiľo’s paintings with a layer of glass that has its own coloured areas, lines and recurring shapes, managing to create a closed space in which the painting and the overpainting, the under layer and the over layer, the base and the top are closely interconnected. In this case, however, the overpainting does not actually retouch the underpainting: it does not intend to take possession of the base and move it to dimensions external to it. In this glass form it is obvious that the different layers play a game of confluence, transition and transfiguration. Although the space is closed and its elements are stationary, a process of continual transformation is going on among them.

When the picture gets flooded by the glass matter, it becomes fixed, fastened. When colour is added, its shapes and colours are blurred. The result is a glass still life, a set of elements immobilised in glass: nature morte.

However, light comes into it and the whole composition suddenly falls into a stream of change that shows, makes visible, points at what colour is like when freed from its slavish task to fill shapes someone has previously defined. I dare to say that the interest in making colour visible was not at all alien to Rudolf Fila. Glazed Filo? Perhaps he was really needing someone to encase him in order to prolong the movement inherent to him and to spur his search for shape and colour.