23.05.2018 - 04.08.2018
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
opening: 23. 5. 2018 at 7 pm
A grid becomes a symbol of organisation in the most general sense of the word, a kind of order of things, and at a symbolic level also a world order.
- Jan Nálevka
The A4 format paper is the most widespread kind of paper in both households and offices. We use it to print ordinary documents, for photocopying, notes and sketches. It is also used for the printing of formal court decisions, meals of the day in cheap restaurants and university theses, as it is the only format with which one can be sure that the diploma work will be bound in covers imitating leather as late as an hour before the deadline. Files for this size are available from any stationery shop, and millions of sheets pile up in millions of metres of office archives. Text editors now offer the digital version of A4… The standardized A4 format is guaranteed by the ISO 216 international standard for paper of the A, B and C categories. The first attempts at standardisation go back to France during the Revolution in the late 18th century. The main advantage of this proportion of sides is the simple division in halves after which the sheets retain the same proportion of sides. The major benefit of the adoption and dissemination of the standard was its compatibility and coordination of the manufacture of a whole spectrum of products. Nowadays, when you ask someone to picture a “common sheet of paper”, they will most probably visualize paper of the A4 format.
When lining A4 sheets, Jan Nálevka adjusts the drawing to the standard. He opts for a neutral handwriting, and steps back as an artist. He uses blue ballpoint pens in order to emphasise office work where the compliance with prescribed administration procedures is essential. Reams of paper covered in lines and square grids are virtually indiscernible from mass-produced prints. And since Nálevka further segments the paper with lines and square grids, while in fact still preparing it for writing and drawing, he can talk about the creation of “standardised blankness”, a blankness achieved through work. Its volume, as well as the time it requires, are not proportionate to the result. However, in their reflection there is always space to realise the absurd nature of this activity. Nálevka’s drawings can thus be considered implicitly critical, yet at a more general level they are abstract visualizations of an order introduced into art, or into a work activity as such. And in its ultimate form, the segmented A4 paper format is a symbolic representative of standards predestining our factual possibilities, shaping our perception and behaviour, and providing a basis for our imagination in the private and social dimension of life.
The And now, finally, let’s finally turn the page exhibition can be understood as a public audit due to which the material that in the previous decade had progressively emerged at preliminary, autonomous and semi-autonomous presentations was gathered in a single place. And although the show exclusively presents drawings from the years 2009—2018, it captures Nálevka’s thinking concerning the external conditions of the organisation of human life. It is divided into three basic sections. The first one observes the subjects of the basic organisation plan and “standardised blankness” as the consequences of the adopted art-work load. In the second section, the issue of the time invested in the drawings, and lost, comes to the fore. Finally, in the last section Nálevka abandons the point of view of an individual and with plans drawn over reproductions of books on modernist art comments on the historical and possible future social orders.
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.