22.02.2023 - 06.05.2023
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curator: Ondřej Chrobák
Opening: February 22, 2023
In the local context, viewers are not used to the possibility of retrospectively looking back at the work of an artist "in the middle" of his career. In the (Western) art world, however, the literal term "midcareer retrospective" is used for this type of exhibition projects. An essential prerequisite for the appeal and success of such an undertaking is that the artist has a high-quality and large body of work from which to build a retrospective. Tomáš Hlavina is almost a model example for a retrospective in the imaginary middle of his artistic career. His consistent work spans three decades and has regularly attracted attention. Its beginnings were accelerated by the artist’s studies, environment and fellow students in Milan Knížák’s Intermedia School at the Prague Academy where Tomáš Hlavina enrolled immediately after its establishment in 1990. Since the mid-1990s, his objects and installations have formed an integral part of most of his generation's defining shows, curated by the duo of Karel Srp and Olga Malá and by the husband and wife tandem of Jana and Jiří Ševčík. At the turn of the millennium, Tomáš Hlavina was nominated three times for the final selection of the Jindřich Chalupecký Prize. His works gradually made its way to both large institutional collections and major private ones. Furthermore, the artist has headed the sculpture studio at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague for many years. All this makes an important prerequisite for the current exhibition recapitulation; at the same time, it opens up a space for new discoveries or a revision of the interpretive frameworks of Hlavina's oeuvre.
Tomáš Hlavina’s TLNVXYK Puzzle is conceived as an exhibition of a single "meta" work to which the constellations of art objects arranged on the elementary plan of a board game are subordinated. The individual works are removed from their natural artistic context, chronology and theme connections. The codified rules of the game on the basis of which the objects have been moved and grouped are not part of Hlavina's plan. Instead, the viewer is invited to closely observe the situation and then enter the "game plan". This might give rise to brand new sensory interactions with the artefacts going beyond the artist’s original intention. Rather than the traditional principles of art theory and history, it seems more appropriate to apply to this experience mathematical models derived from game theory or, conversely, methodological approaches from archaeology and anthropology. One discovery can perhaps be generalized, that on the large-scale installation of the retrospective, an analogical situation is taking place, one which we have become accustomed to experience on a small scale when confronted with Hlavina's objects and installations. These are similar puzzles. Tomáš Hlavina very often employs in them objects and situations of everyday use, which he finely works, arranges and combines with each other or with similarly artistically transformed natural objects. At first glance, they resemble kinetic objects or variable structures, yet movement and rearrangement is only their seeming potential. Tomáš Hlavina draws direct inspiration for many of his objects from the study of ancient cultures, religions and philosophy, but their resulting material reality and poetic metaphoricity is stripped of almost all illustrative dependence. A special chapter involves the artist’s sense of humour which remains hidden under the surface but is a good insurance against falling into the clutches of academism. This is probably where Tomáš Hlavina's need not to omit the title from the process of finalizing the artwork but rather to rely on its evocative effect stems from. This is also the case of the title of the current exhibition, TLNVXYK Puzzle, which might sound like an instructional description, a reference to mythological archetypes or an unsuccessful anagram of the artist's surname. Last but not least, the Puzzle is an invitation into the artist's head.
Project was created with financial support of Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and Statutory city of Brno.