11.10.2017 - 13.01.2018
Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
11. 10. 2017 - 13. 1. 2018
Opening: 11. 10. 2017 at 19:00
Curators: Beata Jablonská, Denisa Kujelová and Jana Písaříková
The arrival of conceptual art in the early 1970s was associated with the shift of interest from aesthetic and material qualities of artworks towards personal, social, historical and often also theoreticizing contexts. In contrast to the art scene in the West, the conceptual approach of artists in Czechoslovakia was motivated by a more personal search for the essence of the relationship between artist and art, at the artistic level as well as the political-ethical, social or even ecological level. The turn towards conceptual art was thus not viewed as dematerialization and iconoclastic efforts but, rather, as a utopian escape from the official, state-controlled culture. It provided the artists with a free space which they worked with a wide range of media and subjects.
The exhibition “CS CONCEPTUAL ART OF THE 70s” charts the trends that were first distinctly employed in the art of ideas, records of projects and actions in the late 1960s and faded in the early 1980s. It presents different forms of conceptual work with drawing and photography, conceptual art exploring the relationship between type and image, and also futurological, action and environmental projects.
The exhibition observes, through its interconnected themes, the closeness of the Czech and Slovak art scenes that have been approached, since the breakup of Czechoslovakia, as two separate entities. The exhibition concept is rooted in a quest for their intersections and joint points of departure. Never in the history of Czech and Slovak art was the need for a mutual dialogue cultivated and developed as much as in the 1970s.
WORD AND SIGN AS A CONCEPTUAL MESSAGE
While concrete poetry of the 1960s reduced the semantic component of language to a minimum, the 1970s saw the return to its meaning. Words were placed in contrast with other types of communication in the form of pictograms, pictorial symbols and numerals, which resulted in a tension between different types of representations.
Graphic music with its formalized language came to the fore in the 1970s. Visual and acoustic art was produced both by musicians active in the field of new music and artists who observed the visual order and the semantic potential of musical scores.
GEOMETRY, ORDER AND ITS DISRUPTION
Under the influence of conceptual art, the geometry of the body, space, area and form grew more sensitive and started to involve aspects placed by the modernist order outside its boundaries. It became a platform for interventions challenging the distinctive nature of geometrical compositions, the relationship between order and randomness, while being enriched with a social, anthropological and political dimension.
ART AS A RECORD AND EXPERIENCE OF EXISTENCE, PERSONAL RITUALS, INTROSPECTION
Reflections of everyday activities and gestures, perception of their stereotypical nature and escape from it in the form of ritual and through the intense experience of one’s existence. Reflections of a person’s immediate surroundings and the passing of time.
REFERENCES TO THE RUSSIAN AVANT-GARDE, CONCEPTUALIZATION OF PAINTING, DRAWING AND POINT ZERO OF A PICTURE
Search for the point zero of a picture, a moment when the invisible becomes visible. The picture medium refers to itself, to its area, colour and matter. It makes its elementary properties present or, conversely, induces their gradual dematerialization. Frequent references to the black square, an important symbol of the Russian avant-garde, to the belief that the art experience leads to a more intense perception of reality.
PROJECTS, MANUALS, INSTRUCTIONS, OBSERVATIONS AND COSMOLOGY
The emancipation efforts of art in the sense of exploiting scientific and rational thinking are, to a certain degree, subversive as they apply a pseudo-scientific language even to the phenomena of a personal, spiritual and transcendental character. The artists were inspired and fascinated by scientific progress, by the language of natural sciences and statistics.
NATURE AS A MEDIUM, EXPLORATION OF THE LAWS OF PHYSICS, NATURE AND ZEN BUDDHISM, EPHEMERAL MATERIAL DEMONSTRATIONS, ENVIRONMENTAL SUBJECTS
The natural environment as a place where one can hide from the estranged and impersonal urban space, a territory beyond the state’s control, a place suitable for art activities. Many of them echoed ecological and ethical issues that were frequent subjects of unofficial discussions and meetings.
CARTOGRAPHY AS AN INSTRUMENT OF RECORDING A PERSONAL JOURNEY
Artists appropriated the rationalizing language of topological drafts, plans and maps, and through them made visible phenomena and spatial relations that cannot otherwise be mediated to the human perception. They emphasise the objective and factual aspect of real phenomena; at the same time, they lend validity to those that have a utopian character.
In the 1970s, artists’ books became alternatives for gallery and exhibition rooms. With the post medium, they were among the key ways of mediating and distributing conceptual art. In addition, many artists pushed through their work the very limits of the definition of books. They created books-objects, accentuated the haptic qualities of paper and the principles of browsing, and made the reading process complicated. Conceptual art of the 1970s was often the subject of personal communication between the artist and the recipient, or a group of friends.
QUOTATIONS, INTERPRETATIONS, APPROPRIATIONS
Interest in the analysis of the art medium, its intellectual reflection. The hierarchy between original and copy was disrupted in favour of the concept of art as a changing structure open to interpretations. The majority of artworks produced as quotations are actually visual reflections on the functioning and continuity of art and its lasting values.
Artists represented at the exhibition: Milan Adamčiak, Karel Adamus, Vladimír Ambroz, Peter Bartoš, Juraj Bartusz, Ján Budaj, Pavel Büchler, Robert Cyprich, Hugo Demartini, Milan Dobeš, Ľubomír Ďurček, Rudolf Fila, Stano Filko, Daniel Fischer, Peter Graham, Milan Grygar, Sonny Halas, Olaf Hanel, Vladimír Havlík, Vladimír Havrilla, Pavel Holouš, Dalibor Chatrný, Jozef Jankovič, Ivan Kafka, Olga Karlíková, Michal Kern, Martin Klimeš, Svatopluk Klimeš, Milan Knížák, J. H. Kocman, Július Koller, Vladimír Kordoš, Inge Kosková, Jan Kotík, Jiří Kovanda, Milan Kozelka, Miloš Laky, Milan Lasota, Dáša Lasotová, Otis Laubert, Milan Maur, Juraj Meliš, Karel Miler, Jan Mlčoch, Alex Mlynárčik, Marian Mudroch, Eduard Ovčáček, Květa Pacovská, Marian Palla, Vladimír Popovič, Pavel Rudolf, Tomáš Ruller, Jan Ságl, Zorka Ságlová, Rudolf Sikora, Jan Steklík, Miloš Šejn, Petr Ševčík, Petr Štembera, Ivan Štěpán, Margita Titlová Ylovsky, Monogramista T.D/Dezider Tóth, Jiří Valoch, Jan Wojnar, Ján Zavarský, Jana Želibská
Fait Gallery MEM
Božetěchova Street 1 (entrance from Metodějova Street), Brno
22/3 – 16/5/2014
Opening: 20/3/2014 at 7pm
Curator: Jan Zálešák
The Fait Gallery invites you to a solo exhibition of last year's graduates from the Prague Academy of Fine Arts Jan Brož (*1988). The exhibiton installation presents a constricted dramaturgical unit, the most important parts are six large drawings, a neon object and an author's book. At the SSSSSS exhibition the political clashes with the poetic in a way, which is not very common today. What is missing is an explicit "political iconography", we will not find here the proven model of engagement, which leaves the gallery world to consequently return to "conquer" the necessary symbolic capital. The greater burden lies on the audience, who can not quite hold of the established clichés, the greater might be the synergistic effect of understanding of the author's message.
I want to start the closer introduction of Jan Brož’s exhibition SSSSSS a bit unusually: by residency stays. In the last two decades the artistic residency has become a routine part of artistic life. Since the adoption of the Bologna Declaration fifteen years ago the possibilities for exchanges during university studies have dramatically expanded. Even in the routine system, that - especially in the concept of the EU - most of all implicits support of tourism, there are exceptions when staying in a new environment significantly influences the students. One of the places that have long retained this ability to influence and move the young artists in their development, was the Cooper Union in New York, where the students from the Prague Academy of Fine Arts used to be sent. Jan Brož spent at Cooper Union nearly six months in the spring of 2012. At that time, the school had just entered a dramatic period when its leadership began to consider a move away from the 150-year-old declaration of its founder, industrialist Peter Cooper, that the school should be "free to all men and women". The fact that the school management had accepted the neoliberal logic seeing the studies as an investment in the future and introduced tuition fees, led to the activation of both students and a big part of teaching staff. It is surely significant that Barbora Kleinhamplová, who interned along with Jan Brož, after returning to Prague significantly profiled her activities leading into the organisation of the art scene and she is getting more and more involved in the area of engaged in journalism and organisational activities.
After returning from New York Jan was finishing work on a long-term project The Intruder (2011-2013), by which he completed the studies at the Academy of Fine Arts last year. Therefore the SSSSSS exhibition in Brno Gallery MEM is the first significant evaluation of almost two years of formative experience. The content of Brož‘s exhibition is substantively political. The author asks for the way in which individuals and communities are working within the structure of the world of late capitalism; a world that Jonathan Crary identifies by the well put three digits: 24/7.
Even though I point Brož’s work as "political" (and certainly I also could have used the adjective "conceptual"), it is also work that exclusively holds the autonomy of art, and artistic means of expression. In the longterm the dominant means of expression in Brož’s work is drawing. The author also uses his experience gained with graphics and graphic design that he gets through both the PhD study in studio 304 at the Prague School of Applied Arts and at work in the studio Parallel Practice. A substantial part of the exhibition is the artist's book of the same name, which in addition to reproductions of exhibited artwork also includes examples of the artist's older works and fragments of the "moodboard" that preceded the installation of the exhibition and also accompanied our discussions over the nature of the accompanying text.