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.
A French mathematician, Bernard Morin is blind since childhood. Yet he has excelled in the so-called mathematical topology, a discipline that does not work only with numbers, but also with three-dimensional models. The subject of his long term work have become joint deformations, turning the models of spheres into complex and difficult to imagine shapes. The ability to recall an object or a form we usually associate with our ability to see. It does not matter if what we perceive is in front of us, or in our imagination, it is still a visual activity. In human biology the retina is linked to the brain by such a dense network of connections that a healthy individual can hardly imagine any other way to perceive the world. But Morin, when making his self-produced clay models, did not use only mathematical speculation, but an important – his imagination. The ability to “see” in his case gained another meaning. The absence of visual sensations of the outside world obviously did not prevent, and maybe on the other side strengthened, his inner vision. A door to a concentrated contemplation about form through touch had opened for him. What is for a sculptor a technique in daily practice, meaning dealing with the shape of a tactile activity, changed into an autonomous system in the work of a mathematician.
In the videos presented at the exhibition in the Fait Gallery David Böhm and Jiří Franta reflect just this situation where imagination is not associated with the experience of visual perception of an external reality. What can a blind man, who has never been able to see, dream of? Sure, it could be more a question for the cognitive sciences, however, here it is the questioning itself that is more important, it opens an interesting creative space for the authors. Both authors are already known for how, within their creative cooperation, they often, with a humorous playfulness, deal with the actual creative act as well as many obstructions. As the creative process is getting intentionally more and more complicated, it becomes an art piece itself. At this exhibition the moment of being different and obstacles, that move the normal functioning of man in this world, become directly a topic, to which both authors also relate their other presented work. The imagination of a blind man is just as impenetrable for us as the strangeness of faces of soldiers from the First World War, reconstructed during the first attempts at plastic surgery. The feeling of distance is associated with a grotesque and fascinating strangeness. The use of these sources of inspiration, is not merely a circus attraction in this case, but it actually points to the unexpectedly beneficial side of strangeness, revealing much more diverse parts of humanity and its quality in comparison to how it is being defined by the commonly occurring norm.