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 & Fait Gallery MEM
Božetěchova Street 1 (entrance from Metodějova Street), Brno
28/9 – 14/11/2013
Opening: 26/9/2013 at 7pm
Curator: Denisa Kujelová
In his conceptual work Marek Meduna demonstrates ambiguity in the norms of human perception and the apparent definitions are deliberately disturbed by the linking of, or even the blurring of the border between language and image. The viewer, similarly to the model of medieval art, i.e. the production and subsequent perception, becomes a reader. A semantic game in the relation between text and pictorial motif, illustrating and illustrated, is further supported in the reading of the artwork by questioning the conventions of installing, various combinations and the accumulation of metaphors, symbols and attributes. As clues for the reader, except for the artworks themselves (they often contain text boxes as well), there are the descriptive labels, that are often changed into artistic video installations, which are works of art in themselves, and of course there are the titles of the exhibits. The interpretation of mutual connections and parallels intended by the author ultimately lead to their decoding. The overall impression of the carefully thought-out design is actually helped by intuitive arrangement and a chain of set out principles and themes.
The author's statement is intentionally directed semantically only in part. His resignation to a full understanding of the artist's intent, supported by multiple meanings of the particular artifacts used in the installation and hidden associations and connections, allows the reader complete interpretive freedom. In this challenging narrative Meduna only sketchily applied the main theme of the exhibition (which is an offence) in different paradigms, and presents a possible line of a detective story, which should, however, as well as it's reality, principle and form remain unreadable. Therefore the construction of the story is intentionally fragmented, the characters of the detective, the victim and the offender are interchangeable and the symbolism of variations and suggested motives and attributes of the characters unclear. By breaking down the canvases into horizontal, vertical and diagonal patterns and spreading most of the drawings into bands he additionally creates an impression of a celluloid movie, which has resulted (as well as a partial absence of perspectives) into impeaching of the reality of the offered event and also the possibility of distance and detachment. Any evocation of cinematic sequences is enhanced by close-ups of objects functioning as possible signs to reveal the core of the story and by repeating motifs of the used symbolism in the consequential reading of the drawings and their possible order. Iconographic patterns of crime are derived from the author's subconscious and are shown also in the form of details and the locations of particular objects in a site-specific installation, where there are repeated the symbols of traps, baits, lures, slings and boobytraps along with motifs of investigation, searching, tracking and wandering in different plans.
In the second room we move from the detective plots of the fragmentary presented story and drawings with encrypted personal messages into general levels of ethical and philosophical categories. Through the demonstration of concepts of balance, causality, fatality, and categorization as well as others, the author encodes via acrostic the word Europe and clearly refers to Aristotle and Immanuel Kant, and their theories of causation. It is clear that the work of Marek Meduna is based on the specific humor coming from a semiotic play with meanings and through this exhibition the audience will be intentionaly caught in the schemes of their own imagination.