Markéta Othová


Valentýna Janů

Salty Mascara

Jan Nálevka / And now let’s finally turn the page

23.05.2018 - 04.08.2018

Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno

opening: 23. 5. 2018 at 7 pm

curator: Jiří Ptáček
exhibition architect: Tomáš Džadoň

A grid becomes a symbol of organisation in the most general sense of the word, a kind of order of things, and at a symbolic level also a world order. 

- Jan Nálevka

The A4 format paper is the most widespread kind of paper in both households and offices. We use it to print ordinary documents, for photocopying, notes and sketches. It is also used for the printing of formal court decisions, meals of the day in cheap restaurants and university theses, as it is the only format with which one can be sure that the diploma work will be bound in covers imitating leather as late as an hour before the deadline. Files for this size are available from any stationery shop, and millions of sheets pile up in millions of metres of office archives. Text editors now offer the digital version of A4… The standardized A4 format is guaranteed by the ISO 216 international standard for paper of the A, B and C categories. The first attempts at standardisation go back to France during the Revolution in the late 18th century. The main advantage of this proportion of sides is the simple division in halves after which the sheets retain the same proportion of sides. The major benefit of the adoption and dissemination of the standard was its compatibility and coordination of the manufacture of a whole spectrum of products. Nowadays, when you ask someone to picture a “common sheet of paper”, they will most probably visualize paper of the A4 format. 

When lining A4 sheets, Jan Nálevka adjusts the drawing to the standard. He opts for a neutral handwriting, and steps back as an artist. He uses blue ballpoint pens in order to emphasise office work where the compliance with prescribed administration procedures is essential. Reams of paper covered in lines and square grids are virtually indiscernible from mass-produced prints. And since Nálevka further segments the paper with lines and square grids, while in fact still preparing it for writing and drawing, he can talk about the creation of “standardised blankness”, a blankness achieved through work. Its volume, as well as the time it requires, are not proportionate to the result. However, in their reflection there is always space to realise the absurd nature of this activity. Nálevka’s drawings can thus be considered implicitly critical, yet at a more general level they are abstract visualizations of an order introduced into art, or into a work activity as such. And in its ultimate form, the segmented A4 paper format is a symbolic representative of standards predestining our factual possibilities, shaping our perception and behaviour, and providing a basis for our imagination in the private and social dimension of life. 

The And now, finally, let’s finally turn the page exhibition can be understood as a public audit due to which the material that in the previous decade had progressively emerged at preliminary, autonomous and semi-autonomous presentations was gathered in a single place. And although the show exclusively presents drawings from the years 2009—2018, it captures Nálevka’s thinking concerning the external conditions of the organisation of human life. It is divided into three basic sections. The first one observes the subjects of the basic organisation plan and “standardised blankness” as the consequences of the adopted  art-work load. In the second section, the issue of the time invested in the drawings, and lost, comes to the fore. Finally, in the last section Nálevka abandons the point of view of an individual and with plans drawn over reproductions of books on modernist art comments on the historical and possible future social orders. 


Markéta Othová / 1990–2018


Fait Gallery MEM, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno

opening: 23. 5. 2018 at 7 pm

curator: Denisa Kujelová

Markéta Othová is a visual artist transgressing the clear definitions of photography, her most frequent medium. Her work defies conventional photographic procedures which the artist deliberately opposes, also in the case of this show. Here, Markéta accentuates the seeming banality of the documented, completely ordinary things with the use of the non-photographic record characteristic of digital archiving and with the choice of an ephemeral material for her typical enlargements. Large formats are in stark contrast with the intimacy of the chosen subject. Through the use of billboard paper and a scanner, the artist again intentionally defies photography in the true sense of the word, wiping out the borders between photographic and graphic art. 

Examining the potential of a visual communication reflecting, in particular, the subjects of reality, time and memory which she addresses continuously, Markéta Othová employs her own means of expression which are also, to some extent, facilitated by her freedom as a self-taught photographer; in addition, this position makes the appropriation of the alternative possibilities of records easier for her. In this somewhat depersonalised manner she processes personal things from her private archive, subordinating them to the A4 format on the 1:1 scale. The colour digital record subsequently became for her part of a natural transition to colour photography. 

While in her previous works the artist had often taken photographs intuitively, without a pre-set frame, and the meaning of the photos was only defined by the composition of the whole, the series of small scanned objects was preceded by a clear concept. In 2004 Markéta Othová systematically recorded her favourite things such as boxes containing photographs, fabrics, printed matter and patterns on paper, as well as various diaries including this series. She continued with their active use and the following collecting, and another scanning process took place in 2005-2017, within the preparation of this exhibition project, and in order to complete it, again in 2018. The result was literally the archiving on an archive. The missing 1992 diary does not render the work deliberately incomprehensible, which was often the case with the sequence of the individual shots with her previous pieces, neither is the year attributed a different meaning.  

Due to its character and a clear regressive time definition, the exhibition is partially a retrospective. The storing of a dictionary entry is definitely a look back, yet at the same time it concisely and with a time gap presents past events and realities. However, these are hidden and only sensed underneath the white-printed signs of the years when they happened. And although the meaning of the artist’s personal retrospective is not transferrable, the succession of four-digit numbers indicates the validity of associations as the given data also obviously relates to all of us. Presumably, everybody has their own or mediated experience with the use of diaries, and through the general effectiveness and topicality of this object can be steered towards collective memory and an unexpectedly intimate self-reflection. 

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