Czech Republic, 1952
Pavel Büchler was born in 1952 in Prague, where he studied art at the School of Graphic Arts and the Institute of Applied Arts. As a student in the 1970s, he was strongly influenced by the emergence of Conceptual Art in Western Europe. He turned his back on the more traditional tendencies prescribed by the communist regime and offered creative resistance to state control through the KQN art group, which focused on street actions and the distribution of clandestine publications. In the early 1980s Büchler left the former Czechoslovakia and settled in the UK, where he further developed his career as an artist. His work owes a debt to conceptual practices and the particular ways in which they have been interpreted in Eastern Europe. Always full of literary and artistic references, including allusions to Samuel Beckett’s theatre of the absurd, Kurt Schwitters’ treatment of objects, and the stories of Franz Kafka, his work explores the limits of language through our ability to understand images, text and sound recordings. Büchler focuses on reappropriating moments from art history, philosophy and literature, which he places in a new situation of tension and dialogue with the viewer. In the resulting works, as the artist himself says, it seems that nothing happens. At the same time, though, the objects, images, words and sounds incorporated in his installations are imbued with a new semantic meaning. A supple interplay between form and content allows the artist to use irony as a way of challenging the gestures and products of human rationality, the main subject he seeks to investigate. In 2010 Büchler was awarded the Northern Art Prize for Eclipse (2009), a large installation that uses obsolete technology (nine slide projectors from the 1950s) to combine a series of shadows cast by balls and other spherical objects. His work has been exhibited at many art institutions, including the Centre of Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, the Broad Art Museum in Michigan, the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, and the Museum Tinguely in Basel. He currently lives and works in Manchester, where he works as an artist and occasional writer, as well as teaching at the Manchester School of Art.