Visual Arts

ONE'S immediate impression of this exhibition of toys and sculptures

by Czech artist Trejtnar is of a jumble of bizarre objects. Trejtnar's

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carved and painted wooden figures fight for space among the

gallery-cum-shop's selection of handcrafted candlesticks, designer

clocks, and jewellery.

In terms of showing off Trejtnar's faintly disturbing creations to

their best advantage, it's not entirely successful, but as gallery

manager Susan Barnard points out, Studio One is primarily a shop, with

the exhibition space growing from the commercial operation.

Trejtnar's work is very much of the Eastern European tradition of

slightly sinister animation and puppet theatre. This finds its

best-known examples in the disturbing imagery of film-maker Jan

Svankmajer, or more popularly in such imported children's TV series,

screened in the late sixties, as Tales from Europe.

Trejtnar is patently steeped in his country's traditions of visual

theatre, having trained, served his apprenticeship, and worked

extensively in Prague's arts and drama schools, theatres, and animation

studios.

His work undoubtedly shares something of the grotesque surrealism of

Svankmajer et al. One ''toy'', a beautifully carved express train, is in

fact part train, part-pity-me-looking-human, painted in glowing

psychedelic hues: Thomas the Tank Engine on mind-altering substances.

Not, I would suggest, the ideal Christmas stocking-filler for a small

person!

My particular favourites: The Fishing Man, with evil's shark's-head

feet, and the succinctly-titled Long Shoe Lace, a two-foot high wooden

figure with pinhead, enormous shoes, and long laces by which he

struggles to drag himself forward, seemed most successful in striking a

balance between the poles of humorous whimsy and sinister grotesquery.

Until September 30.