01.06.2022 - 30.07.2022
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curators: Denisa Kujelová and Jiří Ptáček
Opening: 1. 6. 2022, 7 pm
In the exhibition project of the versatile visual artist Petr Nikl, his creative approaches intertwine in a vast imaginative garden - a kind of ecosystem of moving and seemingly static organisms cultivated by the artist, but at the same time partially self-grown, much to his delight.
Petr Nikl is one of the few Czech artists who need little introduction to the cultural public. Almost everyone will remember some of his exhibitions, a painting, drawing or print, an exhibition project he initiated, a music recording, a concert, a theatre play or a performance or, for example, a book for adults and children he wrote and illustrated. However, it is not this multi-faceted and decades-long presence of Petr Nikl in our cultural space that makes him an unmistakeable and a rather unique figure. Indeed, this presence would not be worth talking about and would be just mindless hyperactivity were it not characterized by the imaginative poetics with which the artist draws us into a fascinating space of fantasy and play.
If we were to sum up what Nikl communicates to his viewers and listeners, it would probably be a non-violently subversive impact on the consensus of dignified and pragmatic adulthood which creates a wall of restrictions and a hard-to-fulfil desire to break it, and Nikl's ability to indicate, through the outcomes of his work, a path towards the fuller experiencing of the multi-layered and mysterious nature of existence that spreads underneath the veneer of the mundane and the superficial absorption of reality.
Nikl co-founded his puppet theatre company Mehedaha as early as 1985. At that time, he was a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague where intermedia fusions or performative forms in visual art were not discussed and taught. In accordance with the ideas of the cultural nomenclature of the period about clearly defined fields for the individual artistic disciplines, they were not even considered potentially enriching.However, he soon found kindred spirits among the members of the Tvrdohlaví art group which made its first public appearance in 1987, with understanding not only for artistic activity but also for self-realization in music and theatre. Yet only in Nikl’s case involving the wide spectrum of image, sound, language and body did it become the basis of all creative activities.
Like the performances of Nikl's plays where his visual sensitivity is strongly applied, many of his art projects are determined by the performative and procedural aspects of art. This is by no means limited to paintings which are executed by mechanical machines with the artist's assistance, often in the presence of the audience. This is also true, for example, of his recent works on paper in which he explores new possibilities by dipping rolls of paper in paint in anticipation of (again) only partially predictable results. Randomness and spontaneity help the artist to cross the horizon of his own imagination and provide him with the possibility of wonder at the resulting image. They are not far from Nikl’s drawing method in which his skill taps unconscious sources and the drawing is thus "let" grow out of contents which otherwise remain inaccessible. In them, too, Nikl is merely a participant who does not have a hundred-percent control over what kind of treasure his mind and hands will bring.
The exhibition in the Fait Gallery is rooted in the metaphor of a flower bed. While a garden is associated with a branching cultural symbolism, the flower bed as its sub-component is only a kind of working subject. Under normal circumstances it is cultivated and maintained in a state where it serves well the greater whole or a given purpose which, depending on the intentions of the grower, is either ornamental or utilitarian. A flower bed that is not weeded and consequently wild is a sign of neglect, while care is characterized by a high degree of restriction and control over what can take place in this demarcated area. In contrast, Peter Nikl lets his imaginary flower beds overgrow in anticipation of the unsuspected and surprising. For him, they are not what he carefully prepares and then follows a plan but a combined activity of plants, soil, sunshine, rain, insects, earthworms, moles and other elements that enter into the process. The flower beds - not dissimilar to stretched canvases or sheets of paper because of their limits - are thus filled with actions that we can only partially observe. And anticipate even less.
Thanks to this, they can turn into fascinating revelations which, through their self-organization and somewhat "disorganized organization" take us beyond (or "under") an objective and clear understanding of reality, to its massive organicity and complexity that is never fully graspable. And yet, this "big" takes place in the encounter with something as "small"... as a flower bed, a drawing or a painted image.
Text: Jiří Ptáček
Fait Gallery MEM
Božetěchova Street 1 (entrance from Metodějova Street), Brno
23/11/2013 – 16/1/2014
Opening: 21/11/2013 at 7pm
Curator: Jiří Ptáček
Fait Gallery has given Tomáš Bárta space MEM exactly one year after the arrangement of his solo exhibition Softcore. During this time however Bárta went through a period of major review of his actual means of expression. Softcore was concluded with paintings, where he openly joined the modernist aesthetic. This was followed by simplifying the complicated abstract tangles and formulation of plainer geometric designs, which started to reflect the inspiration by descriptive geometry, ancient order and constructivism. The emphasis on painting as a derivative of the past turned Bárta's attention to archaeological metaphors that are actually applied in methods of layering, penetrating and revealing.
The curator of Softcore exhibition, Jan Zálešák, in the text toSoftcore exhibition correctly emphasized the gradual "sedimentation" and "a move in aslow-growing set of elements" in the artistic development of Tomáš Bárta. One year later, in front of new pictures, we can say that they are the most radical turning point in the author's production so far, but we can also note that Bárta’s production has not left the territory he had previously explored. While the exhibiton At some point, in the moment of a strange flash, I wake up and change the direction of my fall in the Gallery Down in Ostrava during the spring of this year, captured the crystallisation of Bárta's new artistic opinion, in the collection of middle size formats from Things You Can‘n Delete we can already see a developed spectrum of new themes and techniques. The driving factor in these works is Bárta‘s selfawareness of his own roots in the modernistic tradition. At the same time the fragmented layouts of picture compositions started to integrate. On the new paintings therefore the same principle repeats over and over again - the structural priming influences the form of the surface coating and the whole composition completed by a dominant feature in the foreground.
Jan Zálešák related the characteristics of Bárta’s development to the period after graduating from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Brno. Preimage of his present production is to be found in the distant past - the last two to three years of study in the painting studio of Petr Kvíčala. That was when Bárta first transmuted his inspiration by building constuctions, protoarchitecture and remains of building activity in concise abstract morphology. And that's when a "dominant element", a "material body" appeared in this paintings, from which the whole picture is developed or to which the rest of the picture aims. Pictures from Things You Can‘t Delete are, in this respect, Bárta’s first return to this source, although included in new contexts.
The name of the exhibition encounters the content of collective and personal memory in Bárta's work. There are things that can not be erased, which can not be avoided and to which we always return. It's not always a matter of will. French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan distinguished between the object of desire and the cause of desire. His interpreter Slavoj Žižek described this distinction as follows: "While the object of the desire is simply an object that we desire, the cause of the desire is a specific feature, for which we desire this object (a detail which we usually are not aware of and sometimes we even see it as a barrier, as the characteristic,despite which we desire the object)." In the pictures from Things You Can‘t Delete we surprisingly find rather the cause of desire than it‘s objects. The point is not so much in the themes of bars and sailyards or methods of layering and scratching but rather in the features and details that make him to paint these themes this way - again, repeatedly and moving forward by returning.