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 & 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.