The Decadence Now! Visions of Excess is the international exhibition
project of its kind which attempts to conceptually work with the
concept of decadence in current art. The exhibition is not divided
chronologically, but thematically into sequential sections which
fluently and logically relate to each other, and which also create a
sort-of imaginary closing circle.
During the past several yeas, the concepts of decadence have begun to appear more and more in art theory, often in relation to current art. The commonness of the concept of decadence, or its parallel existence outside of the sphere of art, also enables new methodological processes and combinations, and discovers new territories and relationships. Decadent art is excessive, it exceeds the level of what is generally acceptable, and it provocatively demolishes the most sensitive taboos. Decadence is also firmly connected to the clear stance of outsider individualism.
Decadence is a theme which is topical in current culture, or better yet, it is once again topical. The apocalyptic feeling of ruin and crisis of our civilization incites the increased interest in the dark side of humans and of the world itself.
Starting on the 1970’s, we can monitor the continual effort of the artists like Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Nobuyoshi Araki, Jake a Dinos Chapman, Robert Mapplethorpe, Damien Hirst, Zhang Peng, Keith Haring, Andres Serrano, Gottfried Helnwein etc. to work with typical decadent themes.
In relation to this, the increased interest in decadence from the view of the expert and lay public is also relevant. Exhibitions which present works of decadent art evoke enthusiastic reactions in the same manner as public scandals do. However, they always open discussions on an entire line of key themes like alienation, ugliness, beauty, hallucination, death, pornography, drugs, sickness and madness, that form basic questions of current culture and society.
It is also apparent that a theme which is seemingly obsolete and out-of-date, such as censorship (internal and external), once again makes an appearance on the scene in the context of the new political correctness. Decadent art is subversive, impulsive, it does not evoke indifference, but it requires the formulization of a clear stance. In this sense, decadence is excessive, extreme and also provocative. Alienation, seeming impartialness or depersonalized voyeurism is also a clearly profiled attitude of decadence.
This exhibition presents contemporary artists and their works in the fields of painting, sculpture, photography, and videos in five main areas, including Pop, extended by an independent installation, “Room No. 13,” in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, which indicates current trends in fashion or design.
The exhibition shall be completed by an entire line of accompanying programs (music, film, literature etc.). The Arbor Vitae publishing house, in cooperation with Galerie Rudolfinum will release an extensive publication, whose author is Otto M. Urban, curator of the exhibition, that mapping the entire exhibition project from not only the graphic arts viewpoint, but also from the philosophical, historical and social viewpoints. Of course, a rich picture part documenting the exhibited works will be the centre point of the whole book.
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