27.03.2019 - 18.05.2019
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Opening: 27 March 2019 at 7pm
Curator: Denisa Kujelová
The presentation of artists of several generations and diverse artistic approaches is always an opportunity to revise established categories and the vocabulary of practice tested by history. The relations between the works from the most extensive selection from the Fait Gallery collection so far are thus showed in regard to the relative borders of defining terms, the works of art and the viewer. Although the attitudes of the individual artists differ at many levels, in most cases they share the reduction of shapes and their fragmentarization, the incorporation of letters and signs into visual compositions and experimental work, and the conceptual precision of ideas.
Owing to the extent of the collection, and despite the generous space, the selected works naturally make only a sample, not a comprehensive one but one that demonstrates its direction. The chosen categories of subjects, the borders of which are blurred with many of the pieces by their blending, serve to link the Czech avant-garde, Czechoslovak art of the second half of the 20th century and their reverberations in contemporary art. A major part of the exhibition is devoted to artists whose work features collage, assemblage and installation, or whose output often manifests the principle of layering and assembling different fragments, symbols and letters. The majority of the artworks thus employ the strategies of repetition, juxtaposition and dislocation of the original shapes and signs.
The shifting of objects or texts from one context to another generating new meanings is one of the defining characteristics of modernism and a procedure which was formerly only employed in art. At present, however, it is a process that has become a determining principle affecting social and cultural life, as well as man as an individual, his identity and personal integrity. Creative procedures of fragmentarization and appropriation have given art a great deal of freedom, which is also why collage and the use of graphemes have counted among the most distinct techniques and means of expression in art since the early 20th century until now, especially for their ability to find connections faster and more spontaneously through the use of reduction and paradox.
The discovery of the possibilities of fragment both in image and typography and its ability to produce metaphors endowed modern art with new possibilities of hidden creative potential such as work with coincidence in dadaism, automatism and free associations insurrealism. Typography only entered visual art in the early 20th century, first in the form of the use of fragments of letters in cubism, later in futurism, dadaism, constructivism, surrealism, lettrism, abstract expressionism, pop art and conceptual art, and it finally became a natural artistic means.
Although the typewriter started to be used in typographic experiments with language as early as the 1920s, it was not fully used until the 1950s and 1960s during a worldwide wave of experimental poetry. Word ceased to be a semantic unit, being replaced by any sign on the keyboard including punctuation and diacritics. In contrast to the avant-garde and post-war neo-avant-garde tendencies, experimental poetry of the 1960s and conceptual tendencies were inspired by the linguistic system and the attribution of new semantic properties to grapheme. Conceptual poetry was in the Czechoslovak milieu enriched by further possibilities of the semiotic play with letters, and several artists developed in parallel the concepts of tautology, semantic shifts, associative links and complications, repetitive monotonous texts and semantic drawings.
In general terms, the discovery of fragmentarization opened new possibilities in work with symbols, archetypes and cultural stereotypes, and created a template for the redefinition of the existing constructs and the evolution of new approaches defying the previous ones. This possibility also points out the link between works on different levels, despite the fact that the artists represented approach all these creative strategies from different perspectives and with different motivation. The displayed works present the principle of collage, the use of letters, abstraction and reduction not only as means for the search of autonomous artistic form, often with apparent modernist morphology, and a point of departure rich in associations, but also as an element critically related through its essence to various manners of the isolation and separation of individual segments from a whole. Reflecting the origin of visual, verbal, and acoustic entities, the current selection aims at their reconstruction, thus closing a circle of subjects typified by their validity in the history of art and by a universal value in its introspective role.
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.