Ladislav Novak

Criticism

After experiments with collage, conceptual art and "earth art" — he once painted the surface of a frozen lake — Novak, in the '60s, developed his current medium which he calls froissage. These delicate watercolor fantasies are made by crumpling paper, straightening it out and washing the surface with diluted ink to bring out the random linear patternings formed by the creases. Among these lines the artist hunts down hidden images, fixes them in with pale delicious watercolor.

Jo Ann Lewis

[The Washington Post]

Since the Second World War there has been an extraordinary revival of the researches of visual poetry, with which the Italian and Russian Fturists and the dadaists had experimented. The Swiss Eugen Gomringer and, at the same time the "Noigandres" group in San Paolo, Brazil, have developed the theory of concrete poetry. One of the most interesting poets of this type to emerge is the Czechoslovakian Ladislav Novák. Concrete poetry, which can be taken to refer to all poetic works relating to poetic visuality - required the revelation of the semiotic values of the writing, that is to say, the construction of an architecture of the text, a verbotecture, which found a correspondence in advertising slogans. These plastic values tended to contrast with the phonic values and for this very reason a number of authors felt it incumbent on them to carry out parallel researches in the field of pure sound. This was the case of Franz Mon and Ferdinand Kriwet in Germany, Lora-Totino in Italy, Bob Cobbing in England and also of Ladislav Novák. Since 1970, Novák, taking advantage of the technical facilities offered by Swedish Radio and the Fylkingen group, has produced a number of sonic compositions which have earned him a high rank among the verbophonic poets. His first sonic attempts were founded almost entirely on onomatopoeia: "Little bird in the cables of the steel city", "Awake", "Aviators", and thus were related to the futurist experiments. His more recent works, however, reveal the ironic spirit of Czech literature. In "Human life" a sentence in Latin - "festina lente, spero venientibus ossa" - repeated in an obsessive manner with liturgical cadence creates an atmosphere similar to that of "Ceterum Autem", presented here. In "Les Miroires aux Alouettes" (1970) tissues of echoes compose a subtle satire on the social functions of poetry. "La Structure phonétique de la lanc tchèque" is a poem constructed by the technique of permutation: it is pretended that a computer is carrying out a program of research of the phonetic structure the Czech language.

Cramps Records, Milan

[From the LP Futura Poesia Sonora]