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
21/9 – 27/10/2012
Opening: 20/9/2012 at 7pm
Curator: Petr Vaňous
Richard Stipl’s work is primarily fulfilling of critical relationship to the genre and what it represents. Genres are not viewed from a distance, with no contact, from a safe distance, but to the contrary. The author himself puts on a mask of a genre to be able to play on of the selected roles. The important thing is to get inside the problem, to places where the first moments of narration occur, the first words of narration, to places where the dead matter changes in subjects and bodies, where it can communicate something.
History of art studied the human body literally from all sides. What else is left to exploit from it today? Probably the same thing, but in a different way. It will not be the cult of physicality, titanic strength and health anymore. It will not even be erotic attraction or metaphor of divinity, the healthy spirit in a healthy body. This version is heretically rejected by Stipl and exacerbates physicality in a different direction, toward repulsion. He explores the expressive range of the face. Anywhere from resting state to states of exaltation and aggression. Gesture deforms. It changes the composition of matter, shortens or lengthens physiognomy, caricatures all seriousness, transforming the face into grimace. There is something very conniving here. Transformation of a human into some kind of a puppet, in a silent actor, in a sad clown or a circus clown. The sadness is multiplied when the composition of bold human dummies executes an ugly ritual. When the limbs are being shortened, the viscera are being exposed and there is blood everywhere. Nudity is not attractive. In the case of Richard Stipl, it is scary. The parody of the genre in put into details, not only in gestures. Head devoid of hair and eyebrows has elongated hybrid eyelashes, sometimes even braided into dreadlocks (Stigma). Elsewhere, the author does not hesitate to separate the head and arms and make them into independent totem-like elements (Ruce), or to place on the head of a statue real denture. Naturalism of most statues stems from used materials: wax and surface polychrome. The author seeks by all means to ensure that the statue does not serve the myth. The more it is obvious the evocation of the fact that it’s impossible to escape from the myth and that we still remain its hostages. Its persistent echoes are seeping through everywhere. It only reveals its reverse, dark side. The mere gesture of closed eyes remains forever full of mysteries and secrets.
If this exhibition is called Pocit konce / Sense of an End, then let’s imagine this “end” more like a repetitive and never-ending Promethean ritual. Recurrent pain, followed by recurrent relief. The desire for definitive death that will never be fulfilled. Genre is breaking down on metaphor. The metaphor is not the death of the genre, even if we wished it thousand times. It is impossible to start again from zero.