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
11/3 – 2/5/2014
Opening: 10/3/2014 at 6pm
Curator: Martin Nytra
The exhibition title "It wouldn't be pointless to" is a kind of play on words (in Czech) and a variation on the theme of continuity of work in progress with the object and language and is a direct reference to the recently finished exhibition "Away from the thing" in GAVU in Cheb, which Alice prepared together with Jiří Ptáček.
To interpret more specifically Alice Nikitinová‘s work, which oscillates between the format of a picture and complex grasping of the area of the installation, is not easy. The audience is rather kept in a wide sphere of associations and references and at the same time they are confronted with a clear idea of the art work. Mainly thanks to the skilful play with language, elliptic way of using the means of painting and simplification, new possibilities of attraction and working with the subject taken out of it‘s causal coherence and the effectiveness of daily practise open up. Despite, or perhaps because of this, her work is open to free interpretations and ways of reading. The author does not work with a clear vision of direction. Her work is not defined by clearly formulated meanings and explicit literary contents. It is described by its autonomous language which often, in a humorous way, critically points to it’s own defects or to the limits of our understanding of the world around us. The sarcasm of these comments often comes from almost grotesque comparisons and factual statements, which are based on a careful and analytic investigation of a narrowly defined problem. It‘s definition, on the other hand, opens up a wide area of topics and interesting issues that are closely linked with the relationship of the painting, it’s format and the subject representation within the topic . The author does not make any specific conclusions in advance from this approach, she rather follows the process of mutual discovery , in which the next step is based on the previous step.
The character of Alice's painting work is based on experimentation with the form and a repertoire of the basic elements of paintings, which is clearly influenced by the interwar avant-garde movements and their concept of art and design as one holistic environment of social practise. That is probably what her subconscious selection of models and painting inspiration is based on, most often we can identify them as products which lack specific features, but do not lose the symbolism that defines wider group of items of daily use. In our cultural environment and with the aesthetic experience of socialist realism, the utilitarian visuality of these objects feels extremely familiar. But Nikitinová does not work with cultural identity intentionally, she rather tries to uncover the universal essential nature of the objects reality and language, unladen by the era and local context . That is why her abstracted forms are defined within the terms of basic and understandable codes.
Nikitinová‘s art work is also full of paradoxes, sometimes almost shifty in Magritte’s way, suggestive and unobtrusively subversive to the excessive seriousness of the art. This lightweight game with concepts and their understanding is possible thanks to the wide spread Dadaist methods and the Duchamp lesson that can be explored by the current author and the audience with a critical distance, but still with awarness of the protected background.