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 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.