21.02.2018 - 05.05.2018
Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Vernissage: 21.2.2018 at 7 pm
Curators: Denisa Kujelová & Jiří Zahrádka
Return is the movement of the Tao, yielding
is the way of the Tao. Ten thousand things
in All Under Heaven are born of what there is.
What there is is born of what there isn’t.
In a distinctive visual style rooted in his personal memory, Jan Merta transforms real-world subjects into specific projections of his own experiences. This unusually sincere approach is in its intensity and truthfulness towards the viewer remarkably transferrable and communicative. In most cases, the artist chooses as the subject matter of his paintngs, drawings and objects things and situations on the edge of ordinary attention that, however, are personally highly important for him. By removing them from their original context and by their free processing he fills them with new contents. The pure essence of seemingly ordinary objects demonstrated on a monumental scale with the use of unconventional; spatial structures provides Merta’s paintings with a strange tension, which is in some works even intensified by the refined employment of light and the atypically approached relationship between object and area when an accentuated background creates an illusory perspective.
All of Jan Merta’s works have their own raison d’etre in particular stories, and his art is so closely linked with personal experiences that it could be understood as the artist’s diary records of events, experiences, memories and reminiscences of people, objects and places. Every new painting is for him a return in thoughts, and it is therefore hardly surprising that he has chosen this word for the exhibition title. However, it should be viewed at several levels of meaning: apart from the tite of a sculpture, the motif of return also refers to the show itself, organised in exhibition rooms to which Jan Merta returns with his new project after eight years. First and foremost, it refers to regular returns to the artist’s key theme circles, as well as to particular motifs which are, nonetheless, always approached in a different way.
Within the Return exhibition, sections such as Liberec are important; the artist returns in it to the places associated with his childhood and has worked on it, on and off, for several years, as is the subject of civilization threats and cultural codes as homage to Old Masters and specific works of art. One example is Goya’s painting Third of May 1808 (1814) from which Merta borrowed the motif of a lamp. The lamp as a source of light is a vital element of the picture, not only in its form but also in its content, and Merta has utilised it several times. Last but not least, the exhibition presents works referring to the artist’s penchant for Eastern philosophy. In 2010 and 2013 Jan Merta designed the book Laozi translated by Oldřich Král, and his close friendship with this extraordinary figure reinforced his interest in Chinese philosophy. In the Fait Gallery exhibition project this leading sinologist agreed to incorporate into the LAOZI installation his sound recording of the book accompanied by Merta;s paintings with fragments of cups and saucers. These symbolize clay vessels: according to the teaching of the Tao, the meaning and purpose of their internal parts only come from emptiness.
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.