Petr Nikl

Wild Flowerbeds

 
Lukáš Jasanský - Martin Polák

Sir's Hunting Ground



Petr Nikl / Wild Flowerbeds

01.06.2022 - 30.07.2022

Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno

Curators: Denisa Kujelová and Jiří Ptáček

Opening: 1. 6. 2022, 7 pm

 

In the exhibition project of the versatile visual artist Petr Nikl, his creative approaches intertwine in a vast imaginative garden - a kind of ecosystem of moving and seemingly static organisms cultivated by the artist, but at the same time partially self-grown, much to his delight.   

Petr Nikl is one of the few Czech artists who need little introduction to the cultural public. Almost everyone will remember some of his exhibitions, a painting, drawing or print, an exhibition project he initiated, a music recording, a concert, a theatre play or a performance or, for example, a book for adults and children he wrote and illustrated. However, it is not this multi-faceted and decades-long presence of Petr Nikl in our cultural space that makes him an unmistakeable and a rather unique figure. Indeed, this presence would not be worth talking about and would be just mindless hyperactivity were it not characterized by the imaginative poetics with which the artist draws us into a fascinating space of fantasy and play. 

If we were to sum up what Nikl communicates to his viewers and listeners, it would probably be a non-violently subversive impact on the consensus of dignified and pragmatic adulthood which creates a wall of restrictions and a hard-to-fulfil desire to break it, and Nikl's ability to indicate, through the outcomes of his work, a path towards the fuller experiencing of the multi-layered and mysterious nature of existence that spreads underneath the veneer of the mundane and the superficial absorption of reality.      

Nikl co-founded his puppet theatre company Mehedaha as early as 1985. At that time, he was a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague where intermedia fusions or performative forms in visual art were not discussed and taught. In accordance with the ideas of the cultural nomenclature of the period about clearly defined fields for the individual artistic disciplines, they were not even considered potentially enriching.However, he soon found kindred spirits among the members of the Tvrdohlaví art group which made its first public appearance in 1987, with understanding not only for artistic activity but also for self-realization in music and theatre. Yet only in Nikl’s case involving the wide spectrum of image, sound, language and body did it become the basis of all creative activities. 

Like the performances of Nikl's plays where his visual sensitivity is strongly applied, many of his art projects are determined by the performative and procedural aspects of art. This is by no means limited to paintings which are executed by mechanical machines with the artist's assistance, often in the presence of the audience. This is also true, for example, of his recent works on paper in which he explores new possibilities by dipping rolls of paper in paint in anticipation of (again) only partially predictable results. Randomness and spontaneity help the artist to cross the horizon of his own imagination and provide him with the possibility of wonder at the resulting image. They are not far from Nikl’s drawing method in which his skill taps unconscious sources and the drawing is thus "let" grow out of contents which otherwise remain inaccessible. In them, too, Nikl is merely a participant who does not have a hundred-percent control over what kind of treasure his mind and hands will bring.               

The exhibition in the Fait Gallery is rooted in the metaphor of a flower bed. While a garden is associated with a branching cultural symbolism, the flower bed as its sub-component is only a kind of working subject. Under normal circumstances it is cultivated and maintained in a state where it serves well the greater whole or a given purpose which, depending on the intentions of the grower, is either ornamental or utilitarian. A flower bed that is not weeded and consequently wild is a sign of neglect, while care is characterized by a high degree of restriction and control over what can take place in this demarcated area. In contrast, Peter Nikl lets his imaginary flower beds overgrow in anticipation of the unsuspected and surprising. For him, they are not what he carefully prepares and then follows a plan but a combined activity of plants, soil, sunshine, rain, insects, earthworms, moles and other elements that enter into the process. The flower beds - not dissimilar to stretched canvases or sheets of paper because of their limits - are thus filled with actions that we can only partially observe. And anticipate even less. 

Thanks to this, they can turn into fascinating revelations which, through their self-organization and somewhat "disorganized organization" take us beyond (or "under") an objective and clear understanding of reality, to its massive organicity and complexity that is never fully graspable. And yet, this "big" takes place in the encounter with something as "small"... as a flower bed, a drawing or a painted image.

 

Text: Jiří Ptáček      



Lukáš Jasanský - Martin Polák / Sir's Hunting Ground

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Fait Gallery MEM, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno

Curator: Pavel Švec

Opening: 1. 6. 2022, 7 pm

 

“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement, the greatest source of visual beauty, the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.“

David Attenborough

  

The acclaimed tandem active on the art scene for over three decades is renowned for their photographic cycles characterized by a high degree of realism. In a new series for the Fait Gallery, the work, of Jasanskýand Polák including documentary and reportage photography, detailed studies of architecture, striking shots of nature and the Czech landscape as well as bold experiments with colour or fascinating and sophisticated abstract and geometrical compositions, is expanded with another distinctive photographic genre. 

Wildlife photography is considered one of the most challenging disciplines of photography. It requires not only technical skills such as selecting the right exposure or precise focus but also a range of other specific skills and experience, for example, the ability to predict the behaviour of animals in their natural habitat or dexterity in hiding, camouflaging and approaching animals unnoticed. This genre also generally places more emphasis on the aesthetic value of the image than, say, journalistic or documentary photography. Animals are most often captured in action, for example fighting, hunting or moving. Lukáš Jasanský and Martin Polák, who have spent most of their lives in bustling urban agglomerations, set out with a similar ambition. In the current series, they examine the extent to which a given photographic canon can serve as a means of bringing us closer to nature and deepening our ties with its seemingly separate realm. 

The essence of any healthy relationship should include the willingness to see things as they are, without expectations and bias, without stylistic pretensions and lofty ideas. And it is in this respect that the photographs of Jasanský and Polák can tell us a lot about the relationship between man and the inhabitants of wild nature. Like in their previous series, however, they do not make any straightforward judgements about the objects of their observation, leaving the meaning of their work largely open to the viewer's interpretation. When Jasanský and Polák enter "Sir's hunting ground," it does not necessarily mean that they leave their own. On the contrary, they remain faithful to their means and intentions. After all, faithfulness has always played a key role in their photographs. 

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