23.02.2022 - 14.05.2022
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Exhibition design, artistic collaboration: David Fesl
Graphic design of the book and pendants: Daniela & Linda Dostálková, Sonni Scheuringer
Text: Marek Pokorný
Opening: 23. 2. 2022, 7 pm
I’ll do something somehow
The most remarkable, for some perhaps somewhat old-fashioned but at the same time unusually topical aspect of Lenka Vítková's work is its emblematic nature. However, not in the art-history sense of the word when an image is directly linked with a text in a single sign unit which contains a gnomic title, allegorical representation and an epigram revealing the meaning of the enigmatic title and the even more enigmatic representation. In her case, the emblem is more appropriately understood as a metaphor for a variety of rather personal tactics and artistic strategies in uncovering meaning by obscuring it, and a multifaceted manifestation of the unity of poetry and image.
It is therefore not a literary extension of a work of art, or, conversely, of the imagery of texts but, first and foremost, a condensation of lived experience that allows the artist to perform meaning through a multi-directional exchange between the seen, the thought and the written, an exchange conducted through words, a spatial intervention, sound or moving image, a painterly gesture or the selection and processing of a specific material - in recent years, for example, plaster, which is not just the basis for painting etudes but also comes into play as a visually and haptically active thing-sign. The title of Lenka Vítková's current exhibition and the accompanying publication, First Book of Emblems, is therefore an explicit acknowledgement of the principle of her creative practice, as well as the artist’s suggestion of how the viewer (and the reader) could approach them.
Waving, circling, approaching and receding, leaning, walking, falling. Transformation. A meaning created by the movement of words and the action of the painted surface, by an image related to a sentence. A meaning emerging from the image following a sentence, from a sound or film sequence as a transposition of a word or image. Lenka Vítková's approach to her work is typified by a special kind of civility and ability to speak for herself in relation to the emerging whole of the world through subjects whose prospective banality is cancelled not only by the mentioned emblematic nature but in recent years predominantly by working on the painting, painting as a still-effective way of showing what I mean. Clues which are obviously distilled starting points include not only signs, abstract patterns and abstracted realities or objects and configurations of the seen - glimpsed, but also objects, body fragments and figures. Yet it is always about the whole. Indeed, the subtle objectivity of the subject with which Lenka Vítková is currently working is accompanied at every step by her ability to share much broader contexts, more like a condition than an explanation of the present ones, which make the choice even more significant. Or, last but not least, there is that unsentimental way in which the artist, through painterly means, lays out and activates the surface in order to keep in play the affective qualities of the creative process and their sources.
If Lenka Vítková's works and exhibitions sometimes make the sympathetic viewer feel slightly dizzy, it is due to the continuous stream of exchange between seeing and intellectual work. Her art (she is an exceptional colourist among painters of her generation and beyond) amplifies and intensifies the feeling of the viewer's physical presence in front of the painting or in its space, while at the same time giving meaning to the actual experience that the recipient is undergoing in a difficult-to-convey state of consciousness. One aspect of this type of artistic experience (emphasized by the tradition of modernism) is the result of long-standing exercises through which we still, albeit rarely, and then with a certain suspicion that we are definitely missing something, master the dialectical relationship in which the self and the universe, immediacy and mediation, subjectivity and impersonality, or tradition and its unique fulfilment, can be found. Although we can speculate about what the postmodern emancipation of the sign universe has made possible for the artist and which line of modernist subjective universalism she may be following, the artist herself has described her art practice most accurately: “I’m coming,/ don't know what I’m bringing./ I’ll start somewhere,/ I’ll do something somehow./ Some things the material will do on its own. The gestures I own.”
Text: Marek Pokorný
The project was financially supported by the City of Brno and Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.
Fait Gallery & Fait Gallery MEM
Božetěchova Street 1 (entrance from Metodějova Street), Brno
7/12/2012 – 26/1/2013
Opening: 6/12/2012 at 7pm
The work of Tomáš Bárta is firmly anchored in the tradition of modernist painting, the interpretation of which we have learned to use a simple structuralist metaphor: the images are texts of its kind. Unlike the painter, the writer has far more freedom, is not limited by the range of existing vocabulary or syntax rules. He can “re-invent” his language and rules for its use again and again. In practice, this idea of the painter as a demiurge is limited in several aspects: first, not even the experiments in painting can avoid the limitations by conventions; moreover, there is a particularly persistent awareness of everything that has already been done in this field for the last hundred years. Eventually, the painter doesn’t direct himself towards an entirely new language, but rather towards the speech itself – to idiolect.
When I look back at the way the painting of Tomáš has been developing since the end of his studies up to the present, I can think of, as the most adequate label for this process, the word sedimentation. There are no radical breaks in it, but rather slow motion in a slowly growing set of elements. Its core consists of fragments of the “non-architecture”, various bars and slats, pieces of corrugated metal, broken brick walls converted into nervous pen drawing. During the months spent in Berlin in 2010, Tomáš started using more elegant, elongated lines. Curves and vectors, as if taken from meteorological maps or bold drawings of future cities, however, still enclose not only colored spots and surfaces (Tomáš’s work got at this point considerably closer to noticeable style of Julia Mehretu), but also the remnants of do-it-yourself pseudo-architecture.
In the following period, Tomáš was charmed by e. g. morphology of Gothic architecture, also by content-wise completely depleted aesthetics of predefined shapes of various rulers and French curves. In his paintings, crumbling into even finer details, there are unexpected fusions. Platforms, whose geometric rigor filled with warm colors reminds us of bright tiles of the 70s‘ disco, bear rickety structures, shape hybrids in which increasingly permeates the reference to late modern style, geometric abstraction of the 50s and 60s, and specifically to their local versions.
This formal tendency is most fully manifested in the current set of paintings. Although their dark tonality dominated by gray, brown and ocher implies a significant shift at the first sight, but what is the morphology of the new work concerned, we can see here another particular synthesis or another reinterpretation of elements which were used many times in the past. By converting them into the large format and combining them with a fuller body of colored mass, the “identical words” acquire a new meaning.
Recent paintings by Tomáš Bárta are unquestionably one of those inspiring a great interest in reinterpretation of the language of modern style. In this context we can recall Vasil Artamonov and Alexey Klyuykov or the winner of the Jindřich Chalupecký Award, Vladimír Houdek. The difference of Tomáš’s work lies precisely in the sediment set of forms, the composition of which can not be well interpreted in relation to any external (historical) narrative. For Tomáš Bárta remains particularly important the formalistic process towards an autonomous form. Morphology of modernism in his case is not a symptom of a shift towards the current “historiographical turn”. It reflects mainly the present and its eclectic style-making as a paradoxical process towards originality.