26.02.2020 - 09.05.2020
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Opening: 26. 2. 2020 at 7pm
Curator: Miroslav Ambroz
In my past lives, I was a hunter and a gatherer. I would always start my everyday routine
with decorating tools, weapons and creating musical instruments for myself.
1) Even though you were considered as the creator of spatial objects, in this exhibition your major emphasis is on paintings. What was the impulse?
The new atelier, where for the first time in my life, is light, space and warmth, this helped me to finally start painting. An eternity of horizons was open in front of me, together with two big travels to Columbia and Australia, I understand this happy season as staying on an abandoned island, therefore the name "Two years’ vacation".
2) In 2004 you painted large format canvases "Roads of swifts" and "Mother Earth". In the sametime frame you also painted "Chaple of Karlin", and even before that, "Envelopes" were created, therefore in your own way you are continuing with something that was created long before?
Of course, I was already painting in the '70s during my studies. Back then I inherited very rare pigments from prof. Slánský, which I am using presently. The first time I used them was during my exhibition in Rudolfinum, when there was a need to paint something great for "Silent Hall" and a figure of the central deity arose, which is appearing in my works in different varieties. Connection with the material was always important for me. The type of work on the ground on the non-gesso canvas, together with water diluted pigments and acrylate bonds demanded this physical contact. Even in some places on the paintings, there are my footprints.
A wall painting "Chaple of Karlin" was in somewhat a cleansing exhibition after the floods in 2002, and according to an agreement I had to turn it white. The oldest envelopes date back to 1986. The style of their decoration is connected with the style of "Third rococo" and that epoch is accumulated in my works. In the '90s I created multiple large format envelopes, which I perceived as the object/pictures having multiple-meanings and it opened an inexhaustible line packed into certain cushions, similar to guitars. This is related to my favourite non-standard formats (ovals) and adjusting large canvasses "free" without the stretcher bar.
3) What was most interesting thing about Australia?
First of all never ending space and starry skies. Five weeks, every evening by the fire in the desert. Furthermore, colours and rock paintings as old as 60 000 years. This was the first time I have seen baobabs and eucalypti that were 800 years old, which existed way before the arrival of whites... breathtaking scenery. I brought back a lot of collected materials and natural clay, with which I am painting. Australians have a "story" for each god, they are mostly cautionary stories, which have helped to keep the tribes viable. It appears to me as there are various imaginary divinities, however, they were born from the transcultural backdrop. Something interesting is that the rock paintings and figures on it are very similar all around the world, but I am not the type who would study these things in much detail. On the other hand, I deliberately keep certain blindness, to be astonished, and I would recommend this to consumers. Those who ask too much will learn too much.
4) Some rusty images look a bit apocalyptic, did it have any specific impulse?
"Rusty images" are painted by some rusty mud from a forested swamp in West Czech. In fact, they are ferric nano-shells of microorganisms. I discovered this beautiful colour in the '70s, which came back to me now, to extract it artistically. Thematically, they partly follow the cycle of thermo-drawings "Landscapes from Timelessness" or the cycle of graphics "Giants", where the power of nature is personified into supernatural beings. People desire to witness a miracle or other paranormal acts, and we have this advantage that we can also paint them. Also, people are drawn to the aesthetic of natural disasters and the theatre of extinction. Towards the end however, the road took me elsewhere.
5) When you were in Columbia, did you try yagé -the most renowned shamanic hallucinogen?
I don’t need to check what I suspect. I don't need to meet God. I don't want to upset him. He
could stop passing me.
The interview led Miroslav Ambroz
Fait Gallery MEM, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Opening: 26 Februar 2020 at 7pm
Curator: Denisa Kujelová
The interest in the record of natural sounds and rhythms links Olga Karlíková with the context of conceptual artists and composers of experimental music who combine tones with visual art. Her work captures the sounds of various animal species and natural phenomena in the painting medium, with the graphic records of bird songs making up the most prominent part of her oeuvre.
Olga Karlíková started to work on a cycle of original drawings involving the acoustics of anatural space, represented in her case by the songs of birds and later by the trajectories and rhythms of their flight, in 1965, and the series anticipated the efforts of other Czechoslovak conceptual artists responding to nature: It was in 1965. I was walking through the Chotkovysady park, I remember this distinctly, and I was listening to a thrush. Suddenly I also saw it. I made some very awkward notes in my pocket calendar. Apart from numerous, systematically created series of drawings capturing the songs of birds and whales, the croaking of frogs as well as the sounds of bells and drums, the artist produced over the next forty years drawing records of various natural phenomena, for example, the trajectory of a ray of sunlight at equinox.
Karlíková’s creative approach and thinking in the 1960s came close to Josef Šíma, and especially to Václav Boštík and Jiří John. However, the intuitive, lyrical and intimate sensitivity to landscape is in her work subordinated to the fascination by natural phenomena and laws and their ardent exploration, with strict self-discipline and precise, systematic work. Her unique records of acoustic perceptions show parallels with the work of artists experimenting with the new possibilities of musical record. Yet in contrast to John Cage and his pupils from the Black Mountain College, Milan Grygar and his performance acoustic drawings and other artists employing free musical records, Olga Karlíková’s work did not primarily serve reinterpretation but captured actions in progress. Olga Karlíková’s work in its unique fashion of the transformation of natural acoustic phenomena anticipated conceptual leanings in Czechoslovak art, and through its strong ties with landscape also the work of Dalibor Chatrný, Marian Palla, Miloš Šejn, Inge Kosková, Pavel Holouš, Milan Maur and others.
In order to induce synaesthesic perception, i.e. the interlinking of the visual aspect of an artwork and its sound model, the records of bird songs are presented together with their possible sound “templates” - the recordings of the songs of particular birds. The identification of the individual bird species and the following classification roughly corresponding to audio-recordings could be reconstructed thanks to the artist’s natural need for making records of different types of bird voices, thus creating a kind of index of linear signs. Selected drawings of a more intimate character produced authentically in the natural environment include both records of the individual bird voices and the wholes reflecting the layering and intertwining of the songs of several species of song birds.
Olga Karlíková’s conceptual works place various natural phenomena and processes in direct connection with landscape, making its time present. She understood her work as a process taking place in a real time and space, directly linked with it, which is why the creative process can’t draw on memories or a sudden inspiration. Her perception and interpretation of natural phenomena resonating with universalism are close to the ideas of the Swiss philosopher and anthropologist Adolf Portmann and his neo-evolutionary findings published in the 1960s. Portmann stated as early as 1951 in his lecture “Time in the Life of Organisms” at the conference of the Eranos association: Each form of life is for us a shape which evolves not only in space but also in time. In a sense, living creatures are materialized time, like melodies. Life manifests itself in time shapes.