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.
Božetěchova Street 1 (entrance from Metodějova Street), Brno
31/5 – 13/11/2014
Opening: 29/5/2014 at 7pm
Curators: Denisa Kujelová & Martin Nytra
For the entire initial plot and interpretation of an exhibition there are two important topics: the uncovering of layers and an archaeological approach to clarify the cause of our misrepresentive perception and a need to change the reality of things. However, the process of unmasking itself creates a new semantic line of depicting the reality and is a kind of narration in itself, a theater and multi-layered scheme of a sometimes absurd nature. The turmoil caused by a gesture of the revolt is a type of catharsis of the creative spirit and present reality. It is also an event that starts a myth to spread ritually in all different directions. The event of the stage forms the topic of the show, which is reworded by subsequent productions and interpretations.
The stage divides the action on stage from other events beyond its borders, it is a space where the attention and sensitivity of the stakeholders meet on the level of a different meaning to daily routines. The talent to imagine falls into a private place for both the author and the audience, while language and gestures and symbols fall into the common features of cultural identity. The polarity of the different ways of perception, however, collides with the accelerating rate of received stimuli of a hardly identifiable quality that is typical for the period after the release of freely available technologies spreading the material, which is losing part of its function as a means in a dramaturgically limited performance. The specificity of the subject is replaced by an ambivalent, open figure, rapidly changing as well as non-binding content of the ongoing conversation. The boundaries between stage and audience mingle with indefinite timing into never ending event.
In these circumstances, the demand for autonomy is a challenging task, as well as the skill to keep focused and a compact constellation of meanings and depiction. The composition of fragments and forms, scenery of day and night, scenes, figures, types of characters. The stage is filled with piles from the depositories props, assemblages, staffage, the thought and may be even unthinkable language games become real, the spirit transforms into a concrete object, the established sign bends. The meaning is taken away, the content is attributed, the grimace and sketches with a serious tone and a sincere consistency are presented. Displayed is what is and has been. The Shooting Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch finds itself in a difficult, yet magical situation, surrounded by the Surrealism and Dada in practice.