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 (enstrance from Metodějova Street), Brno
31/5 – 11/9/2014
Curator: Jiří Pátek
Ivan Pinkava is interested in categories and contents that are found at the very roots of Western civilization. The way we understand them and how we accept it´s different forms (that are reflected in our spiritual and material existence) form for him a mental interface, through which it is possible to reach the area where our consciousness is formed. The iconography of pictures and the way the author presents his own work, oscillates around the core of man with almost obsessive intensity. Despite this touching point it can not be said that Pinkava´s pictures are easy to understand for the audience. They do not shout their question: who are we? within the general discursus.
The author's thinking and work are intentionally out of this discursus, with the clear intention to avoid it´s coercive. They are being implemented deeper. Pinkava has never internally accepted the possibility of reducing the human society into a network of utilitarian relationships in the form the prophets of postmodernism have tried to import into the current discursus. All the feelings of emptiness, demons and anxiety that can be seen flashing through his photographs have their origin in the consciousness of being involved and connected to the power greater than each individual. This is not a position to which anyone can be put just by their own will, which gives even somehow a different meaning to practises that are based on such a position.
To emphasize this fact whilst talking about Ivan Pinkava has good reason. Sophisticated iconography full of references and quotations from key texts and works of art, from which we derive our identity as a civilization, would encourage to mark the author as a postmodern artist. For this, however, as has just been indicated, we lack more groundwork. In some way, this can also be seen in the collection of photographs called Remains, through which Pinkava, in 2012, reflected his last creative period. Next to the well known variations of depicting the body and physicality he also involved to a significant degree images of quite ordinary things. The connections that the animate and inanimate objects formed seem to re-confirm facts that those who know the artist's entire artwork must have guessed a long time ago.
Ivan Pinkava has always been trying to check fine distinctions, finding the breaking points and passages within which it is possible to receive qualitatively different things through identical categories. In the exhibition prepared for Fait Gallery dominate photographs from recent years, which, as a novelty, stimulate the audience to follow the presented art works without being laden with every day schemes. But what is perhaps more important is that they also encourage thoughts about where else Pinkava´s interest about the archeology of mentality of the Western man can go. Because the stylization, that he has chosen for some subjects of daily needs, comes to the very limits of conceptual communication. For the recipient ready to be guided by the label and then encrypt sophisticated coding, to which he is used to with the author of Pinkava´s intellectual level, must be the mechanism of being first dragged by the image area, and long after that the ordinary reading mechanisms start, a pleasant change. This change must also have the equivalent somewhere deep in the author's thinking.