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.

Habima Fuchs / Matter in Eternity


Fait Gallery MEM, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno

Curator: Šimon Kadlčák

Opening: 21st February, 7 pm


The whirling eruptions of energy discharges created matter by combining particles, the matter grew in volume and increased in size, filled space and started to produce shapes. Shapes of all forms and sizes were created which continued to change over time. Some shapes appeared unusually unstable, ephemeral and fleeting compared to others, while others in contrast appeared static and unchanging. The truth was, however, that there were also forms compared to which the ephemeral ones seemed stable, and also those compared to which the apparently static ones seemed to be in constant motion. Humans were among the forms that manifested in the course of this process (sometimes it is incorrectly said that it was at the end of it). Like everything else, they were created by stardust, elements ejected from star nuclei coalescing into larger wholes, an expression of a cosmic consciousness that started to explore itself. It seems that conscious matter (or materialized consciousness) predominantly perceives the surrounding world through contact with other matter. Where there is contact, mutual acquainting starts. Matter both reflects and emits light. Since matter and energy are the same,[1],light has become an extended tentacle of conscious matter. It is no longer necessary to touch directly to perceive, touching can be done at a distance.

Habima Fuchs, matter exploring itself, brings into the light-flooded hall of the Fait Gallery MEM objects, arranges them, divides the space with them, places them into correlations and balances them in a concentrated manner. For her, the exhibition is an opportunity to temporarily pause and fixate the current phase of her personal exploration of the world, as well as to present a fragmentary section of it to others in the form of a spatial record. The exhibition is a moment inviting a break from the usual work routine of kneading matter into shapes full of symbolic meanings, a possibility of reflection and sharing with others. The imagery of Habima Fuchs's works abounds in distinct motifs and associations which she presents to others for free confrontation with their own contexts and subsequent interpretation. In doing so, she trusts in mutual understanding. The roots of the images she works with grow out of the shared mycelium of a "collective information archive": its conscious levels consist of the accumulations of the experience of many generations of human life passed down over millennia in the form of images, books, thoughts and feelings..., and the unconscious ones in turn involve the billions of years of experience of organic life (in forms that people can always recognise but which, given their means of communication,  they are only able to express through paraphrasing).

The artist’s current constellation is typified by the geometrical division of a particular space, airiness, leaving room for exploring space through movement, as well as for interpretation. The individually positioned elements create "neural nodes", local clusters of artefacts that determine the final possibilities of the audience's movement through the space. It is the relations of objects in space and its boundaries that enable us to become aware of it and experience it. However, if we want to move through space, we must always make use of its empty sections, avoiding obstacles, bypassing matter. This may remind us of the often neglected and not easily imagined fact that all matter chiefly contains empty space.[2] It is only the invisible interconnections, the energy interactions between them, that create the ultimate illusion of solidity and stability. The reality, however, is movement, constant rearrangement, processes of birth and decline, renewal and growth.

On a personal level, for Habima Fuchs organizing an exhibition is an opportunity to materialize, or visually invoke, an affirmation for (re?)establishing balance in no less than a cosmic sense. Balance implies symmetry, and symmetry implies a balanced symbiosis of birth and decline, a unity manifested in two ways. This is the principle of eternity, and we are matter, i.e. energy that rearranges itself, at one time it is this and at another time it is that, sometimes it is "big" and sometimes it is "small", sometimes its transformation lasts long and at other times it is hectic in nature, and despite the illusion of exclusive individual existence, only reciprocity (consisting of unique elements) is the continuous interconnection of everything in the spatial and temporal sense, of what we understand as “the world”.

[1] According to the equation E=MC2.

[2] To be precise, it is 99.9999999999996 % of empty space compared to the proportion of matter constituting an atom.

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