01.06.2022 - 30.07.2022
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curators: Denisa Kujelová and Jiří Ptáček
Opening: 1. 6. 2022, 7 pm
In the exhibition project of the versatile visual artist Petr Nikl, his creative approaches intertwine in a vast imaginative garden - a kind of ecosystem of moving and seemingly static organisms cultivated by the artist, but at the same time partially self-grown, much to his delight.
Petr Nikl is one of the few Czech artists who need little introduction to the cultural public. Almost everyone will remember some of his exhibitions, a painting, drawing or print, an exhibition project he initiated, a music recording, a concert, a theatre play or a performance or, for example, a book for adults and children he wrote and illustrated. However, it is not this multi-faceted and decades-long presence of Petr Nikl in our cultural space that makes him an unmistakeable and a rather unique figure. Indeed, this presence would not be worth talking about and would be just mindless hyperactivity were it not characterized by the imaginative poetics with which the artist draws us into a fascinating space of fantasy and play.
If we were to sum up what Nikl communicates to his viewers and listeners, it would probably be a non-violently subversive impact on the consensus of dignified and pragmatic adulthood which creates a wall of restrictions and a hard-to-fulfil desire to break it, and Nikl's ability to indicate, through the outcomes of his work, a path towards the fuller experiencing of the multi-layered and mysterious nature of existence that spreads underneath the veneer of the mundane and the superficial absorption of reality.
Nikl co-founded his puppet theatre company Mehedaha as early as 1985. At that time, he was a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague where intermedia fusions or performative forms in visual art were not discussed and taught. In accordance with the ideas of the cultural nomenclature of the period about clearly defined fields for the individual artistic disciplines, they were not even considered potentially enriching.However, he soon found kindred spirits among the members of the Tvrdohlaví art group which made its first public appearance in 1987, with understanding not only for artistic activity but also for self-realization in music and theatre. Yet only in Nikl’s case involving the wide spectrum of image, sound, language and body did it become the basis of all creative activities.
Like the performances of Nikl's plays where his visual sensitivity is strongly applied, many of his art projects are determined by the performative and procedural aspects of art. This is by no means limited to paintings which are executed by mechanical machines with the artist's assistance, often in the presence of the audience. This is also true, for example, of his recent works on paper in which he explores new possibilities by dipping rolls of paper in paint in anticipation of (again) only partially predictable results. Randomness and spontaneity help the artist to cross the horizon of his own imagination and provide him with the possibility of wonder at the resulting image. They are not far from Nikl’s drawing method in which his skill taps unconscious sources and the drawing is thus "let" grow out of contents which otherwise remain inaccessible. In them, too, Nikl is merely a participant who does not have a hundred-percent control over what kind of treasure his mind and hands will bring.
The exhibition in the Fait Gallery is rooted in the metaphor of a flower bed. While a garden is associated with a branching cultural symbolism, the flower bed as its sub-component is only a kind of working subject. Under normal circumstances it is cultivated and maintained in a state where it serves well the greater whole or a given purpose which, depending on the intentions of the grower, is either ornamental or utilitarian. A flower bed that is not weeded and consequently wild is a sign of neglect, while care is characterized by a high degree of restriction and control over what can take place in this demarcated area. In contrast, Peter Nikl lets his imaginary flower beds overgrow in anticipation of the unsuspected and surprising. For him, they are not what he carefully prepares and then follows a plan but a combined activity of plants, soil, sunshine, rain, insects, earthworms, moles and other elements that enter into the process. The flower beds - not dissimilar to stretched canvases or sheets of paper because of their limits - are thus filled with actions that we can only partially observe. And anticipate even less.
Thanks to this, they can turn into fascinating revelations which, through their self-organization and somewhat "disorganized organization" take us beyond (or "under") an objective and clear understanding of reality, to its massive organicity and complexity that is never fully graspable. And yet, this "big" takes place in the encounter with something as "small"... as a flower bed, a drawing or a painted image.
Text: Jiří Ptáček
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.