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Czech Designer Tadeáš Podracký

The artist reveals archetypes, legendary stories and original artistic inspiration in conceptual glasswork

by Adam Stech
on 19 November 2014
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Tadeáš Podracký completed his studies at the glass studio of the Prague Academy of Arts and Design (UMPRUM) under the leadership of great Czech designer and artist Rony Plesl earlier this year. And he's already garnered attention with a number of strong projects during his six years of study. "At first I wanted to devote my work more to fine art, but later through the medium of glass I more inclined to applied art and design," says Podracký of his experimental work, which still stands on the blurry border between art and design.

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For the young artist, design is not just a medium to create functional objects. "I am searching in matters of meanings, symbols with which I can uncover formal and social history of objects and their functions," Podracký says. In his sculptural series of objects simply called "Compositions," he stacks different glass elements of contrasting forms atop each other, and varied techniques and forms of glass processing and design come to fruition. These ready-made glass totems symbolize more than the history of Czech glass; the piling up of different elements on each other is one of Podracký's trademarks, and is a theme he continues throughout his work.

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The "JAARS" collection in 2013 attracted media attention and references Podracký's historic art and design inspiration—another significant feature of his work. Objects uniting cut glass with solid wood and leather refer to two giants of conceptual art from the last century. A sleigh with a horizontally mounted glass jar is reminiscent of the famous 1969 installation "The Pack" created by Joseph Beuys, while a chair with a glass vase standing on its seat calls to mind Joseph Kosuth's "One and Three Chairs installation" (1965). The resulting pieces create a contrast between the present and past, form and function.

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Interest in the social history of objects—namely containers and jars—culminates with Podracký's diploma projects called "Dioscuri." "I have searched the archives for the information about the history of the vessels and their meaning. I got so into old ancient Greece, where many vessels had different functions and meanings. There are utility vessels, particularly amphorae, but there are also purely symbolic vessels that were used for various mystical opportunities," says Podracký about the story behind the two monumental vases from the collection "Dioscuri" inspired by Panathenaic amphoras and Greek Lebes Gamikos pottery.

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Podracký presented his final collection at Mint in London and Designblok 2014 in Prague. The green and blue shaded glass vases are combined with bits of ebony wood, brass and leather symbolizing the sons of Zeus Dioscuri and also referring to the ancient forms of trophies, which are decorated with a kind of medals. Through his vases, the designer tells stories of ancient Greece and considers the motif of victory and the legendary divinity.

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The designer again examines the origin of the vessel itself in a current collection called "Pineapples," which uses pineapple and pumpkin shapes as the basic archetypes of the vessels used since prehistoric times. A heady reference, with bright and playful results.

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The latest project by Podracký is the "Skywalkers" lighting collection, created in collaboration with his partner, jewelry designer Markéta Kratochvílová, for Czech glass brand Preciosa Lighting. For the lighting objects, the creators were inspired by the aesthetics of space modules and created a technical looking, yet decorative collection made from glass and gold-plated steel. "Developing the collection took more than a year and it still isn’t finished. We are now preparing simpler versions for larger serial production," concludes Podracký.

Images courtesy of the designer

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