Daniel Pešta

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Personal Structures
Art Biennale, Palazzo Bembo, Venice
May 9 – November 22, 2015


Daniel Pešta
Nocturnal Head Records
2012 – 2015
Cycle of assemblages
Mixed media
Resin, painting, photographs, textile, leather, wax, string


I have been working on the open cycle of assemblages entitled “Nocturnal Head Records” continuously since 2012, deliberately choosing formats which allow me to accumulate as much energy as possible in a minimum of space. The main material used for the works is resin, a symbolically dense and compact substance, which I combine with paintings or photographs that are subsequently transformed into other shapes and associations. Old stories are painted over with new ones and recent stories are morphed into new contexts. Subsequently, these elements are arranged into three-dimensional compositions and sealed, in several steps, in transparent or opaque matter.

In this way, some beings come to the foreground, becoming clearer, while others begin to vanish into the matter, slowly sliding into oblivion. Some figures are smiling, others remain still and mute; some wear masks or embroidered muzzles, trying to shout something and, in doing so, swallowing the very material they are forever trapped in. Over time, the figures clearly grow more and more emancipated, showing expressions of confidence and freedom – the highest principle of human existence but also something that, even today, many doctrines and unscrupulous manipulators find unacceptable.

The thick and compact resin evokes the oppressive darkness perceived by sleepers – or the unfathomable dimensions of the depressively finite human existence. I is no coincidence that Hypnos, the Greek God of Sleep, was the twin brother of Thanatos, the God of Death. Nevertheless, I always try to see death as a symbolic new beginning, a new birth, a link to a higher plane of existence with a profound meaning.

The main themes of “Nocturnal Head Records” are night and its specific mood and dreaming. In creating these works, I strive to capture the essence released by our subconscious mind during nocturnal rest, a time when the brain operates in an entirely different way, following the loss of consciousness after we succumb to sleep. During certain stages of sleep one can experience short periods of spontaneous, frenetic brain activity. Sometimes these visions – commonly known as nightmares – can be so intense that they rouse us from our sleep. In this state of sudden wakefulness, our brains often recall fragments of recent dreams, combining them chaotically with our actual experiences.

Whenever I wake up after a particularly strong and sometimes nearly psychedelic dream, I immediately make notes or sketches in my “Nocturnal Head Records” book, trying to capture these visions with the maximum possible authenticity. Later, I transform these notes and sketches into visual form. Here, childhood memories and past experiences mingle with fears, guilts and forgiveness as the only path towards liberating reconciliation. At other times, however, my records reflect euphoric internal oscillations, sometimes permeated with sexual energy or swelling with feelings of sheer joy and absolute safety.

The second part of the project is comprised of a conceptual large-format painting of a man – a man who may be sleeping or leaving this world, his bosom containing the spark of new life, waiting to be born. In the exhibition, the painting communicates with a wax sculpture resembling the torso of Jesus Christ, also awaiting rebirth. This constellation relativizes the question of what is divine and human. The complexity of this scene is further increased by the presence of a two-headed wax animal symbolically representing the schizophrenia of “night and dreams”. The beast’s mythical, anomalous anatomy arouses a sense of awe – a fear of nature and its almighty power that subliminally raises concerns regarding the potential implications of unbridled genetic engineering and its abuse. This triangularity, this connection between humanity, religion and science, may well be both the hope and nightmare of future generations – and possibly of entire civilisations.

Daniel Pešta


Nocturnal Head Records (cycle 1)

Nocturnal Head Records (cycle 2)

Nocturnal Head Records (cycle 3)

Double face

Annunciation 1

Annunciation 2





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