12.05.2021 - 14.08.2021
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curator: Barbora Kundračíková
Opening day: May 12 2021, 5 pm–9 pm
Even today, we still tend to understand a picture as an autonomous entity, a unique, final object which has a life of its own and naturally separates itself from the whole of the world. For that matter, we have spent a long time pursuing this, so it’s all good! However, there exists a close link between picture and word, including the inner ones. They belong to each other by their very nature, yet we seldom stress that the connection should be direct and, especially, generally accessible so that everybody can go through the same gateway. Then, however, there come moments when a picture communicates nothing but solidarity, shared being and one existence when the picture itself not only moves between horizons and transcends them but it is also absorbed by reality. This fully applies to Petr Veselý’s pictures. Their objectivity involves not only the time dimension but also a transcendental one.
Ernst Gombrich writes in his reflection on illusion that the power of interpretation can’t be overestimated, mentioning J. M. W. Turner whom he views as somebody who deliberately and in favour of what he sees suppresses all he knows about the world. Both are also relevant today, as we are moving on the same border of discernibility. Petr, however, turns not to what he can see but to what he can touch.
The moment of touch is magical, a touch has the power to take life and also to restore it. The laying of hands is an ancient ritual, hands radiate warmth and coolness, recognise, and in some cases also heal. The essence is always the same: the expression of craving for the original, the real, for what is genuine and to what we, at least imaginarily, return. Gombrich does that himself when talking about abstracted forms as a phenomenon of western visual culture which is certainly remarkable yet fatefully lacking any assessment rules. In Petr’s case, however, we move on the opposite side of the spectrum; a picture is an abstract, grey form, yet it is permanently striving at figuration, or evolves from it. At the sane time, what is abandoned calls for attention which is equally reversible, and the movement we perform during its recognition is thus cyclic and without memory. Echoes of objectivity are secondary, yet they have rules – and these manifest themselves in this way.
Petr’s work is about constants which regularly come to the fore. This regards both his poetry and what can be termed the natural life of things. As in a truly home environment things do not just appear but exist, they meander in forms and functions and their being has an order which also involves decline, so they are like this in the artist’s pictures, or rather, his pictures are like that. They show what a close link there is between them and the world if we deliberately insert them in the framework of our existence. Matter captivates.
Petr is aware of this, of course, otherwise he wouldn’t put so much effort into the bridging of the gap between reality and its image, between what has come to pass and what we expect. He also likes to enter this space, shaping it and summarizing it. Medieval altars in museums are the relics of other autonomous worlds, and the objects of the ordinary world devoid of their function are also like that. Naturally, this is an expression of reduction, but also concentration and (controlled) absence which, paradoxically, grows stable in its loss and thus resonates all the more its original function and talent. A hand frozen in motion, a shirt stretched in its bend moving from the field to the picture and beyond expresses this perfectly. As Ivan Blecha writes, “a reflection that the restricted position of the observer (…) leads to a restricted presentation of a thing is wrong and the statement about the necessary non-representationality of some aspects of reality, about its permanent distortion, is in fact unreasoned extrapolation.“ A picture is often the only thing left of something that once existed. It is a notch of a knife in a cupboard.
 E. H. Gombrich. Umění a iluze. Studie o psychologii obrazového znázorňování. Praha 2019, p. 235.
 In the last decades the formative task and nature of “things” has also been resumed by the western philosophical tradition, namely by Bruno Latour and object-oriented ontology (OOO).
 Ivan Blecha. Prostory zjevnosti. Dílo ve struktuře světa. Zlín 2018, p. 129.
Fait Gallery PREVIEW, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curator: Michal Stolárik
Opening day: May 12 2021, 5 pm–9 pm
A compositionally and dynamically balanced exhibition environment, formal purity of artefacts, obsessively precise rendering of the individual segments or a naturally developing vocabulary of art symbolism. The latest exhibition projects (Children of Ján Moksó, 2020, New Synagogue; Monument of Possible Fall, 2019, At Home Gallery) of the Slovak multimedia artist Kristián Németh (*1983) define from a perspective view his current artistic handwriting and probably also set imaginary standards of his future work. It is characterised by a natural combination of general subjects and intimate, almost traumatic contents, while the artist does not shun institutional criticism masked by a symbolic artistic language inspired by and derived from everyday reality.
Németh in his post-conceptual approach to the creation of objects, installations, performances, video art and staged photographs continuously touches upon subjects rooted in the functioning of the Catholic church. In some cases he examines, in an almost investigative manner, personal and family traumas, sexuality and sexual abuse, the dichotomy of power, the distorted values and intentions of the protagonists of the church, while at the same time questioning the general idea of the (false) positivity and transparency of the perception of a religious society. Although the institutional criticism of the church makes up a greater part of the artist’s research, he gradually updates it with a more universal content line which is related to more general subjects responding to the state of society.
The unplanned change of the dates of the solo exhibition Warm Greetings caused by the pandemic situation gave the artist an opportunity to review the original project and thus to come up with something new, as well as to reflect on the current political and social situation. At a glance, this site-specific project is based on Németh’s previous work and an imaginary library of the artist’s approaches from which he has selected significant light colours, an airy installation, material and formal variety, minimalist stylization and a stage design approach to the building of the exhibition experience.
The central motif placed at the core of the exhibition environment involves wax objects bent by the effect of warmth and force. Candles deformed by an art technique which Németh originally took from the context of the Eucharist represented in his past projects the vulnerability and the unconscious adjustment of individuals to the canons of the church power. In the current update, their numbers are multiplied, resulting in accumulations of organic wholes that appear homogenous yet, on closer inspection, reveal their unique heterogeneous character. Through the accumulation of destroyed candles Németh illustrates the influences of a superior power, unshakeable external stimuli, social norms, pressures and expectations affecting an individual or a group in the present world. Through the form of an invisible physical gesture and an imaginary “warm greeting“ the artist creates symbolic relics and comments on the process of their birth in the form of stylized images communicating the poetics of a simple gesture between creativity and destruction.
The subtle yet unmistakeable colour scheme of the exhibition project which, apart from the fact that it helps dynamize the space and accentuates the meaning of the individual segments, also reflects the symbolism of the colours used. White is connected with purity, innocence, truth ad justice, while the shade of incarnate pink is related to the feminine, corporeality and homosexuality. Apart from fabrics employed in a stage-design fashion we can observe the selected colour scheme on specially designed abstracted wooden pedestals illustrating stylized traces of the melted candles. Together with stigmatically rendered burnt spots, they indicate the invisible yet clearly present elements of warmth and fire, constituting an important ideological background of the whole project.
Supported using public funding by Slovak Arts Council.