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.
Božetěchova Street 1 (entrance from Metodějova Street), Brno
23/11 – 13/3/2014
Opening: 21/11/2013 at 7pm
Curators: Denisa Kujelová & Martin Nytra
This time the selection from the collection is not defined by generations, but by thematic linking of selected works across the generational range of artists represented in the collection, in order to find characteristic features of their work and put it in the context of the development of modern art and it‘s resonances in the present. The central themes are tone and line, icon and character, mutual correlations and contrasts between the different art works, both paradigmatic and syntagmatic. The title of the exhibition "For many different ears" in accordance with the parallel of the position of contemporary art, directly refers to the eponymous essay from a set of theoretical writings Modern Artistic Expression, in which Josef Čapek defends the character of modern art in the contemporary context by an appeal to the viewer's open-mindedness and with his ability of sharp and synthetical perception.
The confrontation of authors from several generations allows for the possibility to revise the established categories and terminology of historically proven practise. The attitudes of the individual authors disagree on many levels, but they are connected by the line of abstraction, conceptual refining of the art work idea and thoughtout use of expressive means. The mind precisely formulating the idea of the art work and a control of all aspects of the artistic production. Although the present art pieces declare their rationality by their intellectual overlap, we can say that all these works are characterized by a high degree of sensitivity. Despite all the noise, it is possible to discover that silence is an important theme of the exhibition. Silence as an aim or origin, or as the beginning of the end. Therefore it is better to speak about the intellect that has the ability to perceive the areas of knowledge, which are on the other hand hardly translated into a structured and semantically unambiguous message by speech. Relationships among the artworks are anticipated with respect to the relative boundaries of defining concepts, the entities of the art pieces themselves and the audience. The present art pieces also consciously work with time, which in this case falls apart and becomes a general and abstract concept, or they assure us about it’s presence and flow by cooperation between visual and audio features. The enthusiasm of forms projecting a vision of the future blends with the retrospection in a melancholic mood.
The title of the exhibition is therefore offered as a kind of metaphor for perception of the art pieces, inseparatebly linked to the context and the viewer's own experience as a multi-layered process, during which the meaning of modern art is created.