Milan Maur / Uncertain Sequences of Action

19.10.2022 - 14.01.2023

Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno

Curators: Denisa Kujelová, Ondřej Navrátil and Jana Písaříková

Opening: 19 October 2022, 7 pm

 

Following the Sun was undoubtedly one of the key points of Milan Maur's work. This radical action, documented by an unclosed circle on a map and accompanied by the text on 9 May 1983 I followed the sun from dawn to dusk, anticipated his future direction as an artist. In the course of the 1980s, Maur developed in the Czech milieu unique conceptual practice based on the observation of minute natural sequences and events. This was not, however, a “desk-job” investigation at a safe distance from the observed subject but in situ research, requiring physical involvement and vigilant attention close to meditation. Specific examples include the artist’s numerical series documenting the autumn falling of leaves of various species of trees over several days, or his shadow images in which he recorded shadow shifts throughout the day at given intervals. This individual research was certainly also a personal ritual and self-preservation method of the artist's survival in totalitarian Czechoslovakia of the 1980s.

 The first part of the exhibition presents works that convey the artist's natural science interests and at the same time seek to answer the following question: what is actually behind all this endless swarming of nature? Is it a coincidence or another level of order? And is it possible to unravel its system, to relate to it, or to identify with it? We thus enter a world of thought that hasn’t lost its relevance even after all these years but opens up to us further and new meanings in the times of climate crisis and a search for a way out of the solitary confinement of anthropocentrism and its blindness, deafness and arrogance.

 By the mid-1990s, Maur's work seemed to have reached its end. However, the feeling that this was one of those short-lived careers is quickly suppressed by the further parts of the exhibition. The extensive body of photographs from the period after the turn of the millennium is linked to his earlier work primarily by a conceptual strategy of recording the environment that works with the principle of a predefined creative process, more exactly, with the experimental adjustment of the optics of a sophisticated Hasselblad camera. The titles of the cycles testify that they were created during expeditions to distant lands, which on the one hand echoes the several-month-long pilgrimages of Maur's youth and on the other introduces us to the new life situation of the artist, who in the 1990s went from being an outsider and a night watchman in the Plzeň cemetery to a successful entrepreneur and an enthusiastic traveller.

An essential part of the exhibition is a new installation related to the artist's recent experience in a hospital environment - a place where every person becomes a constantly controlled and measured subject in the gears of a fixed order. Here, Maur returns to and approaches his own body as concretely as possible. Whereas until now we have only suspected the artist’s external and internal sentiments behind informative and poetic notes in the margins of the paper (...I was tracing the shadow of a pear tree...), we now see the outlines of his body, captured by his son on a hospital bed, and for the first time ever he himself becomes the subject of the record - in an attempt to record the very fragility of human existence and the potentiality of its end. Milan Maur's drawings, photographs and installations can thus be understood as a record of a sequence through which a particular event is singled out from an otherwise cyclic universe. This might be the world, the universe, nature, or a person’s existence. 

 



Radek Brousil & Peter Puklus / Stupid

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Fait Gallery MEM

Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Vernissage: 21.2.2018 at 7 pm
Curator: Jan Zálešák

“It’s a man’s world,” James Brown sang fifty years ago, a world of strong men who give and take, and to which the ultimate sense is only given by a woman’s love. I realise that I inadvertently experienced the slow decline of this world as a boy and later as a teenager when watching TV series with David Hasselhoff. Detective Michael Knight, the hero of the Knight Rider series, became Mitch Buchannon, a Baywatch lifeguard chief, self-confident on the beach but a failure at home. The truth is that the images of the crisis of the western man flashing between the slow-motion takes of luscious female lifeguards seemed as unreal to me in the post-socialist universe of the 1990s as KITT the talking car.

When discussing the exhibition with Peter Puklus and Radek Brousil, we didn’t talk about these TV series. However, I’m sure they had watched them as well, at least occasionally, and found in them the prefigurations of manhood that they were later forced to reassess and throw away, along with many other men who no longer feel part of the “man’s world”. I want to believe that this world is steadily declining, yet its images, perpetuated on and on, still dominate the imagination of most people. With this exhibition centred around counter-hegemonic images of manhood Brousil and Puklus enter an imaginary battlefield. Raising questions about the nature of the modern man, which is the leitmotiv of the show, is general on the one hand, while on the other it is anchored in the personal experience of the artists.

They were both born in 1980, and their work is rooted in the photographic medium, without being bound by conventions of what a photograph is and what it should look like. They learnt about each other through an artists’ residence centre in Banská Štiavnica, and a certain fascination with the similarity of their work – which at some moments had an air of them being each other’s creative double – has culminated in a joint exhibition in the Mem gallery. This, however, also brought to light distinct differences between the artists: while Radek Brousil seeks the most up-to-date language for his works, Péter Puklus has long focused on the fine-tuning of his own idiolect.

The exhibition entitled briefly Stupid can be viewed as a double introspection developed in a dialogue. Specific experience and attitudes, particular concerns, uncertainties and desires are transformed into symbolic contents that are more universal and leave space for an empathetic identification. In a divided world in which listening to others seems more difficult than flying to the Moon, the understanding born of empathy appears to be the highest purpose of art. 

 

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