The Visualisation of an Idea.
O, the idea was childish,
but divinely beautiful!
Friedrich Schiller (from Don Carlos)
I don’t quite know how to start my text and hope that some felicitous idea will occur to me soon. Several scrunched-up sheets of paper have made their way to the wastepaper basket by now. Ideas cannot be forced, they frequently come to mind suddenly and surprisingly, particularly in moments when, of course, you have nothing on hand with which to write them down. “Some of the biggest ideas in the world started on a napkin” it says on the wrapping of a whole pack someone recently gave me as a present, which fittingly came with a pencil. Gradually I begin to understand the title of Guido Kucsko’s exhibition: When you finally have an idea, hold on and be nice to it. Who knows how long it will take the proverbial muse to kiss you again. In former days, this was taken literally. Homer and other poets of antiquity would never have considered themselves authors or owners of their works. They were merely the chosen ones through which divine voices spoke. Over the centuries, however, inspiration granted by the grace of heaven has diminished, and creativity has become an ability mutually stimulated and fostered among gifted people themselves. Yet there is more: at least since Joseph Beuys, everyone has had the chance to be an artist and act creatively simply because they have it in them. Modern man no longer seems to be in need of the muses, as people resort to their own minds in order to create something great. In our individualised and over-achieving society, nding ideas and living one’s creativity have become central aspects of our lives. Whether it’s everyday life, science and research, business and politics, literature and art: today, a cornucopia of ideas is more sought after than ever.
“I’ve got it, I’ve got an idea!” When I was a child, he was my hero, the smart boy who snapped his fingers and then sparkled with unusually clever ideas. Thanks to his ingenuity and creativity he succeeded in rescuing his father and the latter’s comrades from many a critical situation. In the harsh world of the Vikings, the little boy’s acute mind was by far superior to the physical strength of adults: this is how the message was brought across to children. An idea is a thought on which to build one’s actions, or a guiding principle that provides orientation. In general everyday usage, the word idea refers to a new, original, intelligent, or smart thought one would like to put into practice. Having one or several compelling ideas constitutes an artist’s most valuable asset. In contemporary art, the mere idea can embody a work of art, its manually skilful translation having become irrelevant for its quality and meaning. For example, the German painter Martin Kippenberger conceived a series of works the realisation of which he left to a commercial poster artist (Lieber Maler, male mir [Dear painter, paint for me], 1981). In this way, Kippenberger ironically questioned the artist’s role and the concept of authorship.
Guido Kucsko goes one step further. The idea of what makes an idea an idea becomes art. Kucsko is interested in intellectual processes that can lead up to an idea, in the brooding and weighing one thought against another, in finding a thought and rejecting it. Taking the form of flat aluminium panels in monochrome black, ideas appear against pink backdrops. The ideal case is a smoothed-out rectangle (Ideal idea), but mostly these ideas are formless or crumpled, torn or fragmented (Upcoming idea, Not yet fully unfolded idea, Discarded idea). Kucsko has added brief descriptions and comments in block letters or handwriting. The struggle of capturing a creative moment and translating it into a creative act materialises and takes shape. The visual language is clear and consistent, but not without being tongue-in-cheek. “Be nice to your ideas,” Kucsko demands for upcoming, ideal, and rejected ideas, and one feels that there is someone who exactly knows what he is talking about. His works remind me of Federico Fellini’s lm Otto e mezzo (1963), in which Marcello Mastroianni, Fellini’s alter ego, plays the part of a film director going through a deep creative crisis – just as Fellini did at the time. The film is considered the Italian director’s best work. Kucsko similarly makes artistic creation the subject of his art, not only addressing the doubts about and struggle for a good idea, but consequently also the desires and expectations associated with it. Both critically and ironically, the artist reflects upon what will follow: What will happen to an idea once it has been born? Does it have the potential to prosper or is it merely a flash in the pan? Can one become rich and famous with it? Is it unique and should therefore be protected by copyright?
Homer probably hardly gave a thought to all that. Yet today’s ideas have come to be the immaterial capital of creative people, personal property that is worth protecting as the source of artistic production or raw material for scientific research. As Wilhelm von Humboldt once said, “Ideas are the only things in life that truly remain. In the proper sense, they are what deserves serious and lasting human thought.” How rewarding and inspiring it can be to approach them as an intellectual principle has impressively been proved by Guido Kucsko and his work.