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.
Katarína Hládeková and Jiří Kovanda
SIAMESE UNCLE & MONTAGE
The unusual format of the exhibitions of the two authors Katarína Hládeková (1984) and Jiří Kovanda (1953), having been prepared in parallel to each other by two curators and in two connected Fait Gallery areas intentionally reflects the possibility of their cooperation in different ways. Whilst being a classically approached exhibition the Siamese Uncle by the curator Pavel Vančát is of an expected retrospective nature disturbed by the mutual paraphrasing created by their existing art works making the identity of the artists mingle and almost merge. The new joint project of the second exhibition Montage, in cooperation with Marika Kupková, does, to the contrary, clearly display the separate roles of the authors and their mutual intersection is defined by the specific concept of video installations.
Denisa Kujelová, Head Curator of the Fait Gallery
Katarína Hládeková and Jiří Kovanda are connected not only by Hládeková’s PhD studies in Ústí nad Labem, but also by a sense of tranquil atmosphere and frequent emphasis on unexpectedly transformed detail. But while the very existence of Kovanda’s art works is always a bit of an unpredictable and uncertain nature, Hládeková is a storytelling perfectionist; while Kovanda is a grandmaster of improvisation, Hládeková, on the other side, constructs whole microuniverses. So how to introduce art works by artists of different generations and also with such different characteristics, connected rather by mutual sympathy and in two connnected exhibitions at once?
Their joint exhibition in Brno takes up a series of Kovanda’s various collaborations with other artists in a radical way: both artists completely give up their solitude and indeed the exclusive authorship of their artworks and allow them to coalesce, but also be seen in stark contrast to one another. The new and old works by both artists do not only communicate together here, but also merge and morph into collective new formations, postscripts and mutual comments. Some of them are a result of a joint debate, others were a unique intervention by one of the authors, and some were created during an improvisation in the gallery space (and some of them were borrowed from Kovanda’s biggest collector, Richard Adam). So Kovanda lets the curator’s car crash into Hládeková’s birthplace, Hládeková counters with a pack of hankerchiefs and a line of cactuses. Inspirations, allusions, contexts and after all the whole exhibiton start to move.
All of this allows us to see the works of both authors through the eyes of only one of them, through the prism of their own method, point of view and their opinion about the world. As if we among their art pieces happen to be again and again in that moment, when the approaching magnets start to repel or attract. This creates a strange Siamese duet of the two artists (and through a wall of two curators), a fun nonverbal dialogue between two generations about different bases, mutual influences and pure joy of the game and surprise, but also a small study about the principles of contemporary art and its elasticity.
Pavel Vančát, RailJet W. A. Mozart, 22. 9. 2015
The video by Katarína Hládeková and Jiří Kovanda, that was created specially for the exhibition, is untitled. That’s why this text is a short reflection of its possible names that could be found for it on the literal level. So. It could be called The Ruins because Jiří Kovanda works with a largely divided photo of a model created by Katarína Hládeková according to the famous painting The Ruins of Holyrood Chapel (1824), which was painted by Louis Daguerre according to his own dioramas. The Ruins can symbolize the final disintegration of the integrity of the original picture, as well as the partial remains of many media forms that are present between Daguerre‘s diorama and the exhibited video.
It could be called Holyrood Chapel as per the place that Daguerre supposedly never visited and whose reconstruction refers to repeatedly mediated pictures which actually do not relate to the reality at all. And that means as to the reality of the Holyrood chapel as well as the reality of its model produced by Katarína Hládeková. The emphasis on locality also points to the author's choice of the attractive sight worthy of postcards from trips or jigsaw puzzle (and once even dioramas).
In accordance with the name of the exhibition the video could be also called the Montage, as it is based upon the variation of the set of constant elements. What is important, however, Kovanda‘s attempts are spontaneous and uncorrected. In the video there are purposefully represented all variants that Jiří Kovanda had tried without selecting the "better" ones or adjusting their order. The purpose was not to make a movie, based on a prepared scenario, but to record the progress of thinking of a performer when handling a source, that he had not selected himself. So the video could be called the Test which was carried out by Katarína Hládeková on Jiří Kovanda and which simultaneously took place at the level of a unique joint work of artists based on the challenge set by the curator. (As well as, Learning or Mastering, which already brings us to the relationship between the two authors on the level of the former teacher and his student.)
It could be also called Patience from the famous card game played by a single player and which has an infinite number of variations. The subject attracting the audience might be the predictability as well as the surprise factor of his acts. Nota Bene, when playing with the cards, let’s say of a familiar cultural and historical nature.