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 (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.