11.10.2017 - 13.01.2018
Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
11. 10. 2017 - 13. 1. 2018
Opening: 11. 10. 2017 at 19:00
Curators: Beata Jablonská, Denisa Kujelová and Jana Písaříková
The arrival of conceptual art in the early 1970s was associated with the shift of interest from aesthetic and material qualities of artworks towards personal, social, historical and often also theoreticizing contexts. In contrast to the art scene in the West, the conceptual approach of artists in Czechoslovakia was motivated by a more personal search for the essence of the relationship between artist and art, at the artistic level as well as the political-ethical, social or even ecological level. The turn towards conceptual art was thus not viewed as dematerialization and iconoclastic efforts but, rather, as a utopian escape from the official, state-controlled culture. It provided the artists with a free space which they worked with a wide range of media and subjects.
The exhibition “CS CONCEPTUAL ART OF THE 70s” charts the trends that were first distinctly employed in the art of ideas, records of projects and actions in the late 1960s and faded in the early 1980s. It presents different forms of conceptual work with drawing and photography, conceptual art exploring the relationship between type and image, and also futurological, action and environmental projects.
The exhibition observes, through its interconnected themes, the closeness of the Czech and Slovak art scenes that have been approached, since the breakup of Czechoslovakia, as two separate entities. The exhibition concept is rooted in a quest for their intersections and joint points of departure. Never in the history of Czech and Slovak art was the need for a mutual dialogue cultivated and developed as much as in the 1970s.
WORD AND SIGN AS A CONCEPTUAL MESSAGE
While concrete poetry of the 1960s reduced the semantic component of language to a minimum, the 1970s saw the return to its meaning. Words were placed in contrast with other types of communication in the form of pictograms, pictorial symbols and numerals, which resulted in a tension between different types of representations.
Graphic music with its formalized language came to the fore in the 1970s. Visual and acoustic art was produced both by musicians active in the field of new music and artists who observed the visual order and the semantic potential of musical scores.
GEOMETRY, ORDER AND ITS DISRUPTION
Under the influence of conceptual art, the geometry of the body, space, area and form grew more sensitive and started to involve aspects placed by the modernist order outside its boundaries. It became a platform for interventions challenging the distinctive nature of geometrical compositions, the relationship between order and randomness, while being enriched with a social, anthropological and political dimension.
ART AS A RECORD AND EXPERIENCE OF EXISTENCE, PERSONAL RITUALS, INTROSPECTION
Reflections of everyday activities and gestures, perception of their stereotypical nature and escape from it in the form of ritual and through the intense experience of one’s existence. Reflections of a person’s immediate surroundings and the passing of time.
REFERENCES TO THE RUSSIAN AVANT-GARDE, CONCEPTUALIZATION OF PAINTING, DRAWING AND POINT ZERO OF A PICTURE
Search for the point zero of a picture, a moment when the invisible becomes visible. The picture medium refers to itself, to its area, colour and matter. It makes its elementary properties present or, conversely, induces their gradual dematerialization. Frequent references to the black square, an important symbol of the Russian avant-garde, to the belief that the art experience leads to a more intense perception of reality.
PROJECTS, MANUALS, INSTRUCTIONS, OBSERVATIONS AND COSMOLOGY
The emancipation efforts of art in the sense of exploiting scientific and rational thinking are, to a certain degree, subversive as they apply a pseudo-scientific language even to the phenomena of a personal, spiritual and transcendental character. The artists were inspired and fascinated by scientific progress, by the language of natural sciences and statistics.
NATURE AS A MEDIUM, EXPLORATION OF THE LAWS OF PHYSICS, NATURE AND ZEN BUDDHISM, EPHEMERAL MATERIAL DEMONSTRATIONS, ENVIRONMENTAL SUBJECTS
The natural environment as a place where one can hide from the estranged and impersonal urban space, a territory beyond the state’s control, a place suitable for art activities. Many of them echoed ecological and ethical issues that were frequent subjects of unofficial discussions and meetings.
CARTOGRAPHY AS AN INSTRUMENT OF RECORDING A PERSONAL JOURNEY
Artists appropriated the rationalizing language of topological drafts, plans and maps, and through them made visible phenomena and spatial relations that cannot otherwise be mediated to the human perception. They emphasise the objective and factual aspect of real phenomena; at the same time, they lend validity to those that have a utopian character.
In the 1970s, artists’ books became alternatives for gallery and exhibition rooms. With the post medium, they were among the key ways of mediating and distributing conceptual art. In addition, many artists pushed through their work the very limits of the definition of books. They created books-objects, accentuated the haptic qualities of paper and the principles of browsing, and made the reading process complicated. Conceptual art of the 1970s was often the subject of personal communication between the artist and the recipient, or a group of friends.
QUOTATIONS, INTERPRETATIONS, APPROPRIATIONS
Interest in the analysis of the art medium, its intellectual reflection. The hierarchy between original and copy was disrupted in favour of the concept of art as a changing structure open to interpretations. The majority of artworks produced as quotations are actually visual reflections on the functioning and continuity of art and its lasting values.
Artists represented at the exhibition: Milan Adamčiak, Karel Adamus, Vladimír Ambroz, Peter Bartoš, Juraj Bartusz, Ján Budaj, Pavel Büchler, Robert Cyprich, Hugo Demartini, Milan Dobeš, Ľubomír Ďurček, Rudolf Fila, Stano Filko, Daniel Fischer, Peter Graham, Milan Grygar, Sonny Halas, Olaf Hanel, Vladimír Havlík, Vladimír Havrilla, Pavel Holouš, Dalibor Chatrný, Jozef Jankovič, Ivan Kafka, Olga Karlíková, Michal Kern, Martin Klimeš, Svatopluk Klimeš, Milan Knížák, J. H. Kocman, Július Koller, Vladimír Kordoš, Inge Kosková, Jan Kotík, Jiří Kovanda, Milan Kozelka, Miloš Laky, Milan Lasota, Dáša Lasotová, Otis Laubert, Milan Maur, Juraj Meliš, Karel Miler, Jan Mlčoch, Alex Mlynárčik, Marian Mudroch, Eduard Ovčáček, Květa Pacovská, Marian Palla, Vladimír Popovič, Pavel Rudolf, Tomáš Ruller, Jan Ságl, Zorka Ságlová, Rudolf Sikora, Jan Steklík, Miloš Šejn, Petr Ševčík, Petr Štembera, Ivan Štěpán, Margita Titlová Ylovsky, Monogramista T.D/Dezider Tóth, Jiří Valoch, Jan Wojnar, Ján Zavarský, Jana Želibská
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.