the little infinity

Marian Palla

Matter in Eternity

Habima Fuchs

Marian Palla / the little infinity

21.02.2024 - 04.05.2024

Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno

Curators: Denisa Kujelová a Vít Havránek

Opening: 21st February, 7 pm


To create a picture using earth from a Moravian orchard is to abandon the modernist tradition of expressionism, fauvism, impressionism, and also what preceded them. For someone who doesn't paint every day, such a decision may seem easy. But it isn’t, as both the painter and the picture lose the joy of a brush sweeping across the palette and canvas, as well as the effects conveyed by colour. For curators and the visitors, the earth pictures, one of which gave the exhibition its title, are a gateway to the most extensive display of Marian Palla's work to date. We enter Palla's oeuvre from roughly the centre of its material sediment, literally crashing, like country schoolmasters, into the middle of a giant molehill. Because, in keeping with the artist's programme, this is neither a complete nor a scholarly retrospective but typically, or occasionally, a taxonomic (exploring the species diversity of the artefacts) and random show.

Palla's very first participation in a public presentation of young Brno artists (1971) grabbed the attention of Jiří Valoch, for whom the Nature picture was "something different at first sight".[1]. This event led to their acquaintance and Palla became an active member and a driving force behind the now-legendary[2] Brno circle. His studio in Kotlářská Street provided the space for countless meetings, debates, studio exhibitions and performances by invited guests. The distinctiveness that had enchanted Valoch was not only visible against the backdrop of the conformist art of the time, it also characterised Palla's work within the Brno circle. It centred around two opposites, seriousness resulting from the experience of land art and drawing performances (I existed in this painting for two days and ate 7,799 grains of rice, 24 hours, Journey to a touch, Drawings with tea, etc.), and humour, or more precisely, naivety, constantly present from the earliest paintings (My parents, Nature, etc.).

Palla actually describes himself as a naive conceptualist.[3] The starting point for this conceptualism was not Duchamp nor his idiosyncratic interpreter Kossuth, but rather Magritte's painting This is not a pipe. The language, idea and definition of art around which the interest of Anglo-American conceptual artists gravitates has its roots in Palla’s work in fiction, poetry, and increasingly in Zen spirituality. Humour, naivety, self-criticism, empirical observation, description of obvious facts, absurd questions, paradoxes, the great subjects of the philosophy of life. We find all this condensed in every single one of Palla's poems, objects, pictures which are created because the artist wants to "experience intensely" but at the same time "to do things without purpose". Art and Zen practice mutually intertwine.

The concept of abandoning modernity mentioned in the introduction (with the exception of conceptual art) was employed by the artist to move through the history that far predates it. He could view the manifestations of the zeitgeist and modernity with the hearty kindness of a caveman, and painting with sticks or body parts, Neolithic pottery, imprinting and other prehistoric practices hold a prominent place in his work. Perhaps due to his pre-modern perspective, his work naturally constituted itself from the positions of interspeciesism and radical sustainability topical today. He arrived at it not by reading Bruno Latour but through a concentrated meditation on the reality that surrounds him.

For that matter, even the essay Against Interpretation[4] relevant today draws attention to the simplification (undoubtedly related to conceptual art) committed by art theory when it forgets the qualities that arise in primary sensory perception and assesses the value of an artwork only through interpretation. Sontag notes the "experience of something mystical, magical" that the prehistoric creature had in the Lascaux cave. Palla's conceptualism was aware of the brain's one-sidedness and involved body parts and nature in creating art. Projecting the ideal of enchantment into a remote French cave, as the New York theorist did, was not an option for Palla; in contrast, he demonstrates that it can be experienced by anyone in their surroundings. In his case, also between cities, Brno, a country house with a yard and animals, and cosmic nature.

Note, for example, that the Spoilt picture, Crack and other works by Palla owe their existence to the correction of the insight into the meaning of error; the error of artistic skill or material in the creative process. The consistent concept of doing things without purpose directs the artist not to exclude error, awkwardness, displeasure, or any other option based on the outcome. It grants each variation a potential for intense experience, its own inherent and healing beauty. This may seem a serious error of judgment, a naivety in a society organised around the pragmatic pursuit of success and profit. But once the crack opens, the beauty of error and ruining starts working, as a source of therapy of the imaginary common sense.
T: Vít Havránek

[1] VALOCH, Jiří. Marian Palla: Ticho, čekání a dech (kat. výst.). Galerie Na bidýlku, Brno, December 1987.

[2] Let us note here the publications and exhibitions of Barbora Klímová, long-term research of Jana Písaříková and Ondřej Chrobák of the Jiří Valoch Archive in the MG in Brno, the similarly focused research of Helena Musilová, the catalogues of the works of Vladimír Ambroz (Tomáš Pospiszyl), ČS koncept 70. let by Denisa Kujelová (ed.), Akční umění by Pavlína Morganová, etc.

[3] Marian Palla, Naivní konceptualista a slepice,2014.

[4] Susan Sontag, „Against Interpretation." In Against Interpretation and Other Essays, 1966.

Mia Milgrom / Mining the Undersense


Fait Gallery PREVIEW, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno

Curator: Pavla Sceranková

Opening: 24th May, 7 pm


ELLIPSE the first sign of pressure on a ring and the defence of deformations.[1]

Iron is formed inside stars as the last element that can originate in this way. Its presence in the nucleus of a star will eventually cause a gravitational collapse and a supernova explosion, which will scatter it and the other elements into space. It is the same iron that then becomes part of the organometallic compound of haemoglobin, which plays a key part in the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the body's tissues and is therefore essential for breathing.[2]   Despite the immense distance between a supernova explosion and respiration, they are partly conditioned by the same element. The complex interconnectedness of the events around us can cause anxiety and amazement at the same time. Mia Milgrom reflectson it intuitively and as if unconsciously through her passion for the material.

The starting point of the exhibition was an interest in "the language of tension that arises in disturbed situations"[3]  Mia observes these from the perspective of a geologist who can glimpse into "the system, the support structure that maintains the local equilibrium... layers of organic deposits alternate with human footprints and objects that accumulate and gradually decompose, seeping down into deeper layers and contaminating the soil".[4]

The exhibition consists of minimalist situations that are spatial metaphors for the support structure just before the fall, equilibrium maintained by a defective component. Although they are all predominantly made of iron, it is the details of the joints that draw attention to themselves. At first glance, the embedded wooden or ceramic parts are an illogical weakening of the structure. The unsustainability of the systems we live in is another thing Mia is thinking about. The whole, however, is not weakened by the material of the joints; it only starts to fall apart when we want to organise it, explain it, control it. "By creating nonsensical moments, we may approach narratives that offer non-linear recourses.“[5]

It takes calmness and inner peace to perceive the potential of the non-linear recourses that promise relief. We spin in circles. We sense a way out of exhaustion, but we are too tired to reach for it. Mia lends us a hand in the form of a bump that disrupts the expected trajectory of movement. A sculpture is a thing that acts. The action is initiated by its physical presence; the action itself happens elsewhere. I am drawn into the exhibition space by a steel shape wedged between the ceiling and the floor. It raises an unspoken question. Is it an ellipse that fits precisely in the gap between the ceiling and the floor, or is it a circle deformed by the pressure of the ceiling? I am aware of the question, but the answer is irrelevant. Thoughts are distracted by viewing the embedded segments. I stick with them.

The distorted trajectory of an ellipse reminds me of a combination of words from the book Pedagogy of the Oppressed: to be more.[6] It stands as a call for emancipation, an opposition to the imperative: you are less. Words derived from Freire's complex analysis appear a bit awkward in this way. I ask how to be more; how to want less; how to want less so that I can be more? I return to the embedded segments. My thoughts get blurred, as if their presence was an obstacle. I get used to the feeling and start to enjoy it. I think of Jane Bennett. In her essay The Force of Things, she writes: "Perhaps the very idea of the force of things and living matter asks too much of us: to know more than it is possible to know."[7] In an essay that discusses, among other things, the similarities between Adorno's non-identity and the force of things, between "concrete materialism" and vital materialism, she mentions in a footnote Roman Coles's interpretation of Adorno's concept of non-identity. As Roman Coles writes of Adorno, "objects are not captured by concepts completely, and thus life will always defy our knowledge and control. The negative dialectic is a 'morality of thought' that nurtures generosity towards others and towards non-identity in the self.“[8]


To want less, to be more, to find a way to alleviate the suffering caused by trying to control all things.



[1] PADRTA, Jiří. Pracovat v souladu s kosmem a živly. In: KUJELOVÁ, Denisa, ed. Karel Malich & utopické projekty / Karel Malich & Utopian Projects. Brno: Fait Gallery, 2021, p. 23. ISBN 978-80-908446-0-5.

[2] Železo. In: Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia [online]. San Francisco (CA): Wikimedia Foundation, 2001- [cit. 2023-04-25]. Accessed from:

[3] Mia Milgrom, exhibition concept.

[4] Ibidem.

[5] Ibidem.

[6] FREIRE, Paulo. Pedagogika utlačovaných. Prague: Neklid, 2022. ISBN 978-80-908247-9-9.

[7] BENNET, Jane, Síla věcí, p. 122. In: JANOŠČÍK, Václav, LIKAVČAN, Lukáš and Jiří RŮŽIČKA, ed. Mysl v terénu: filosofický realismus v 21. století. Prague: Akademie výtvarných umění v Praze, Displey, 2017. ISBN 978-80-87108-72-7.

[8] BENNET, Jane, Síla věcí, p. 123. In: JANOŠČÍK, Václav, LIKAVČAN, Lukáš and Jiří RŮŽIČKA, ed. Mysl v terénu: filosofický realismus v 21. století. Prague: Akademie výtvarných umění v Praze, Displey, 2017. ISBN 978-80-87108-72-7.



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