23.02.2022 - 14.05.2022
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Exhibition design, artistic collaboration: David Fesl
Graphic design of the book and pendants: Daniela & Linda Dostálková, Sonni Scheuringer
Text: Marek Pokorný
Opening: 23. 2. 2022, 7 pm
I’ll do something somehow
The most remarkable, for some perhaps somewhat old-fashioned but at the same time unusually topical aspect of Lenka Vítková's work is its emblematic nature. However, not in the art-history sense of the word when an image is directly linked with a text in a single sign unit which contains a gnomic title, allegorical representation and an epigram revealing the meaning of the enigmatic title and the even more enigmatic representation. In her case, the emblem is more appropriately understood as a metaphor for a variety of rather personal tactics and artistic strategies in uncovering meaning by obscuring it, and a multifaceted manifestation of the unity of poetry and image.
It is therefore not a literary extension of a work of art, or, conversely, of the imagery of texts but, first and foremost, a condensation of lived experience that allows the artist to perform meaning through a multi-directional exchange between the seen, the thought and the written, an exchange conducted through words, a spatial intervention, sound or moving image, a painterly gesture or the selection and processing of a specific material - in recent years, for example, plaster, which is not just the basis for painting etudes but also comes into play as a visually and haptically active thing-sign. The title of Lenka Vítková's current exhibition and the accompanying publication, First Book of Emblems, is therefore an explicit acknowledgement of the principle of her creative practice, as well as the artist’s suggestion of how the viewer (and the reader) could approach them.
Waving, circling, approaching and receding, leaning, walking, falling. Transformation. A meaning created by the movement of words and the action of the painted surface, by an image related to a sentence. A meaning emerging from the image following a sentence, from a sound or film sequence as a transposition of a word or image. Lenka Vítková's approach to her work is typified by a special kind of civility and ability to speak for herself in relation to the emerging whole of the world through subjects whose prospective banality is cancelled not only by the mentioned emblematic nature but in recent years predominantly by working on the painting, painting as a still-effective way of showing what I mean. Clues which are obviously distilled starting points include not only signs, abstract patterns and abstracted realities or objects and configurations of the seen - glimpsed, but also objects, body fragments and figures. Yet it is always about the whole. Indeed, the subtle objectivity of the subject with which Lenka Vítková is currently working is accompanied at every step by her ability to share much broader contexts, more like a condition than an explanation of the present ones, which make the choice even more significant. Or, last but not least, there is that unsentimental way in which the artist, through painterly means, lays out and activates the surface in order to keep in play the affective qualities of the creative process and their sources.
If Lenka Vítková's works and exhibitions sometimes make the sympathetic viewer feel slightly dizzy, it is due to the continuous stream of exchange between seeing and intellectual work. Her art (she is an exceptional colourist among painters of her generation and beyond) amplifies and intensifies the feeling of the viewer's physical presence in front of the painting or in its space, while at the same time giving meaning to the actual experience that the recipient is undergoing in a difficult-to-convey state of consciousness. One aspect of this type of artistic experience (emphasized by the tradition of modernism) is the result of long-standing exercises through which we still, albeit rarely, and then with a certain suspicion that we are definitely missing something, master the dialectical relationship in which the self and the universe, immediacy and mediation, subjectivity and impersonality, or tradition and its unique fulfilment, can be found. Although we can speculate about what the postmodern emancipation of the sign universe has made possible for the artist and which line of modernist subjective universalism she may be following, the artist herself has described her art practice most accurately: “I’m coming,/ don't know what I’m bringing./ I’ll start somewhere,/ I’ll do something somehow./ Some things the material will do on its own. The gestures I own.”
Text: Marek Pokorný
The project was financially supported by the City of Brno and Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.
Fait Gallery MEM
Božetěchova Street 1 (entrance from Metodějova Street), Brno
23/1 - 13/3/2014
Opening: 23/1/2014 at 7 pm
Curators: Denisa Kujelová and Martin Nytra
Petr Nikl is an exceptional type of artist oscillating between various media as the perfect Renaissance Jack of all trades with unprecedented playfulness, naturalness and modesty. The mood of human modesty, kindness, and also a large degree of imagination, fascination by the shape and neatly defined form are a set of characteristics which gives the impression of obviousness, set up by childish, but not infantile, perspective, which makes Nikl‘s work understandable and intimate to the general public.
The author's unique and sophisticated artistic expression is influenced by his interest to master the painting techniques of the early Renaissance and Baroque periods, this manifests itself also as a reference in the deliberately exalted topics, that change apparently ordinary object into a highly unusual phenomenon with unique importance. The stylised coloured background from which, almost exclusively, the object stands out alone, creates a balanced tension between the holy and the ordinary. The atmosphere of mystery and the precise shapes of realistic expression are changed into an abstracted automatic process that isolates the subject from the practical needs of daily practise. The paramount dimension of the holy is objectified in the intimacy through the appearance of availability, but untouchability. Through this the subject becomes both ordinary and majestic. It rather turns into the scale of achievable experience. From the symbolist character of painting stenographs, the fragility and poeticism of metamorphosis and anthropologisation of plants and animals, as well as a hint of surrealism in figurative work, there is evident, except of the desire for passion, play and enchantment, also of the author's effort to find his identity.
The focus of the exhibited series of portraits of characters randomly met in the streets of New York is also based on a form of identification. However, the emphasis is not on the identification of recorded people, who form only part of the diverse spectrum of residents and participants of this cosmopolitan city, but on the identification of New York as New York. Taking the characters out of their original context, which is shown by the photographs, that are an integral part of the exhibition and are primarily used, except of the documentation of the atmosphere of the unusually mapped city, also as templates for the exhibited drawings and canvases and thanks to the neutral background their specificity is again accented, their almost bizarre appearance even more so and despite this procedure is already a sort of art license and a catalyst of a vague feeling of dreaminess and melancholy in Nikl’s work. As a result there is created a different version of stolen reality and by it‘s gentle humor, in the context of Nikl‘s work, it almost gets which for the author is not rare, the character of decently created grotesque. The result is an album of New York's houses of the bizarre, cabinets of curiosities, a manifestation of the spirit of Manhattan and it’s media charisma. By their amazement at the diversity and variety of human beings they correspond with the world of Nikl’s metamorphosis, but they are disentangled because of their real essence, as a specific kind of social studies and excursions to realities of a different cultural identity.