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.
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.