08.10.2020 - 17.04.2021
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curator: Denisa Kujelová
Special opening day: October 8, 4 pm–9 pm
Jiří Kovanda’s work is typified by several trademark aspects which manifest themselves continuously, from early actions and installations through postmodern drawings and paintings, collages, assemblages and objects of the 1990s to the current interventions, installations and performances: inconspicuousness, efforts at contact, humbleness, simplicity, spontaneity, sensitivity, humour and manipulation with ego.
The austere rendering of low-key, almost indiscernible installations and interventions is already apparent in Kovanda’s early actions in which he examined the most elementary possibilities of nonverbal communication. Back in the 1970s, the philosopher and art theorist Petr Rezek pointed out an interesting fact, saying that Kovanda’s actions signified, above all, a desire for contact. At the same time, they are set not to be fulfilled: they were often conceived so that they forced the artist to work with his natural shyness and to go beyond this mental barrier. The participants were placed in unknown situations outside the framework of art, or situations which through their non-diversion from normal behaviour remained invisible for viewers, and were only made visible by their subsequent documentation by means of photography and presentations in gallery contexts.
Photodocumentation was crucial in the next phase of Kovanda’s work in which his physical presence was gradually replaced by mere records of his activity. With installations intervening in private and public environments without the presence of viewers, photography presented the only possibility of recording the artist’s traces in the form of various objects of daily use and trivial materials installed completely inconspicuously in different places, both outdoors and indoors, also regarding the indiscernibility and ephemerality of these interventions. The artist already articulated his completely natural strategy of creating an unexpected context for an object and leaving a trace of his activity in his early works such as fallen leaves stuck to the ground with a sellotape, wooden wedges inserted between cobblestones and a pile of pine needles and nails in the forest, or interventions in interiors, for example, a flower pot hidden behind a pillar, a string tied around the same pillar two months later and a white string stretched across a room in Kovanda’s home.
Kovanda’s actions frequently involved banal situations, ordinary activities and mundane tasks that we do automatically, yet acted out in a shifted context. Likewise, in his installations and interventions the artist shifts ordinary, routinely used objects to a completely new, unexpected level by removing them from their original situation and taking away their primary utility function. Thanks to his work in the National Gallery depository Jiří Kovanda first started to use in his installations material related to installation practice in the everyday gallery run, for example strings, paper, glass and wooden wedges. He also employs things of daily use and household objects including foods in his current installations and interventions, along with objects typical of a particular place. Through them he makes a space more visible and defines its individual parts, and thus also slightly manipulatively determines how a particular space and its layout is perceived by viewers and sets a new manner of movement in this space. Jiří Kovanda’s installations are not rooted in an idea of a certain place suitable for or adjustable to a particular work; instead, he executes an idea and the preparation of a situation which is to make up the base of a new project, or of the employment of some of his older works, directly on the spot. This is also the case with the central installation Gold Ring which, perhaps most of all the works on display, prompts a reflection of values, in a metaphorical comparison of a string and a ring, an ordinary thing and an exceptional object. Everything has the same value, all depends on context and interpretation.
A virtual tour of Jiří Kovanda's exhibition - Ten minutes earlier can be found here.
 It was a provisional gallery space in Provaznická Street. The basement room of the Odeon publishers where Jan Mlčoch worked from 1978 was originally designed as an archive, and until Mlčoch’s resignation in 1980 was used by three Prague body artists (Karel Miler, Petr Štembera and Jan Mlčoch) as a meeting place. They staged there their own performances as well as those by their close friends, including Jiří Kovanda.
 In this respect, a key role in Kovanda’s art was played by Marcel Duchamp’s exhibition in the Václav Špála Gallery in 1969, prepared by the chief curator Jindřich Chalupecký in collaboration with the Milan art collector, gallery owner and art theorist Arturo Schwarz.
 In 1977 Karel Miler got Kovanda a job in the National Gallery in Prague; he was responsible for a depository housed in the Municipal Library. Kovanda worked there until 1995 when he became an assistant professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, in a studio headed by Vladimír Skrepl.
 Not surprisingly, the artist’s installations tend to be confused with ordinary things accidentally left in a space, and as such must be carefully protected from the over-enthusiastic cleaning staff.
Fait Gallery PREVIEW
Dominican Square 10, Brno
7/5 – 20/6/2014
Opening: 6/5/2014 at 6pm
Guest: Martin Baar
Curator: Martin Mazanec
The shell of the machine controlled unfolding of the exhibition space with book with black pages. The exhibition The Source by Veronika Vlková and Jan Šrámek exists based on a series of cooperative exhibitions, which was an assembling of the painting, models and blending of their form and content. The cooperation, which brings gradual merging of individual styles is within individual exhibitions conditioned by the topic, that affects also the process and dynamics of the ativity.
The exhibitions It does not have to dawn on straight away (Školská Gallery, Prague 2012) and The Lost perspective (Chodovská fortress, Prague 2012) based the outer shell on the mythological story, which was part of the animated video and a particular publication. A couple of exhibitions The Magic of forgetfulness (Blansko Gallery, 2013) and You get what you can carry (Nau Gallery, Prague 2013) again based their skeleton on a mythical story of an air crash at the Crimea, where the main hero, hidden under his own story, was Joseph Beuys. While the first two exhibitions were based on a parable about a girl living in a post-apocalyptic landscape and a main format was animation and a book, the story that was loosely paraphrasing the confession an artist was a gallery illustration consisting of a mosaic of watercolors, computer illustrations, objects and animations covering a broad range of symbolic and cultural themes.
The recovery of the figures from watercolors and drawings, was in previous exhibitions done through their animation and editing, that was done in cooperation with Martin Búřil. The current exhibition on the other side is intended to work mostly with the reality of the time experienced whilst visiting the exhibition. The exhibition leads to thoughts about the momentum of pictures that are static, but also moving freely in the environment of their own previously undefined landscape.
Projections in the centre of the space is a constantly changing image that will never be the same. Therefore the gallery is metaphorically changed into a board game, which can be accessed from the pages of the black book, through the projection or the absurd motion of objects measuring the "gallery time." There is an inspiration to discover the experienced space, to it´s literal and even purely literary permeability based on the presence of the borders of the exhibition itself.
Words from a book, paintings on the wall and onomatopoeic robotics of mechanisms revive the contents of the exhibition, which is not defined in advance, but is "derived" through the archetypes of literary genres and symbols. The exhibition The Source with Martin Baar as a guest opens another topic for Veronika Vlková nd Jan Šrámek. For the first time this is not a joint exhibition in the meaning of combinations or sub-assembly of individual artistic works, but the process of joint exhibition articulation.