12.05.2021 - 14.08.2021
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curator: Barbora Kundračíková
Opening day: May 12 2021, 5 pm–9 pm
Even today, we still tend to understand a picture as an autonomous entity, a unique, final object which has a life of its own and naturally separates itself from the whole of the world. For that matter, we have spent a long time pursuing this, so it’s all good! However, there exists a close link between picture and word, including the inner ones. They belong to each other by their very nature, yet we seldom stress that the connection should be direct and, especially, generally accessible so that everybody can go through the same gateway. Then, however, there come moments when a picture communicates nothing but solidarity, shared being and one existence when the picture itself not only moves between horizons and transcends them but it is also absorbed by reality. This fully applies to Petr Veselý’s pictures. Their objectivity involves not only the time dimension but also a transcendental one.
Ernst Gombrich writes in his reflection on illusion that the power of interpretation can’t be overestimated, mentioning J. M. W. Turner whom he views as somebody who deliberately and in favour of what he sees suppresses all he knows about the world. Both are also relevant today, as we are moving on the same border of discernibility. Petr, however, turns not to what he can see but to what he can touch.
The moment of touch is magical, a touch has the power to take life and also to restore it. The laying of hands is an ancient ritual, hands radiate warmth and coolness, recognise, and in some cases also heal. The essence is always the same: the expression of craving for the original, the real, for what is genuine and to what we, at least imaginarily, return. Gombrich does that himself when talking about abstracted forms as a phenomenon of western visual culture which is certainly remarkable yet fatefully lacking any assessment rules. In Petr’s case, however, we move on the opposite side of the spectrum; a picture is an abstract, grey form, yet it is permanently striving at figuration, or evolves from it. At the sane time, what is abandoned calls for attention which is equally reversible, and the movement we perform during its recognition is thus cyclic and without memory. Echoes of objectivity are secondary, yet they have rules – and these manifest themselves in this way.
Petr’s work is about constants which regularly come to the fore. This regards both his poetry and what can be termed the natural life of things. As in a truly home environment things do not just appear but exist, they meander in forms and functions and their being has an order which also involves decline, so they are like this in the artist’s pictures, or rather, his pictures are like that. They show what a close link there is between them and the world if we deliberately insert them in the framework of our existence. Matter captivates.
Petr is aware of this, of course, otherwise he wouldn’t put so much effort into the bridging of the gap between reality and its image, between what has come to pass and what we expect. He also likes to enter this space, shaping it and summarizing it. Medieval altars in museums are the relics of other autonomous worlds, and the objects of the ordinary world devoid of their function are also like that. Naturally, this is an expression of reduction, but also concentration and (controlled) absence which, paradoxically, grows stable in its loss and thus resonates all the more its original function and talent. A hand frozen in motion, a shirt stretched in its bend moving from the field to the picture and beyond expresses this perfectly. As Ivan Blecha writes, “a reflection that the restricted position of the observer (…) leads to a restricted presentation of a thing is wrong and the statement about the necessary non-representationality of some aspects of reality, about its permanent distortion, is in fact unreasoned extrapolation.“ A picture is often the only thing left of something that once existed. It is a notch of a knife in a cupboard.
 E. H. Gombrich. Umění a iluze. Studie o psychologii obrazového znázorňování. Praha 2019, p. 235.
 In the last decades the formative task and nature of “things” has also been resumed by the western philosophical tradition, namely by Bruno Latour and object-oriented ontology (OOO).
 Ivan Blecha. Prostory zjevnosti. Dílo ve struktuře světa. Zlín 2018, p. 129.
For the exhibition Anamorphosis, that we have prepared with Ondřej for the gallery Horní konírna, he also produced an icy object. This large chunk of ice formed a huge color map on the floor that could have never been properly cleaned from the gallery floor. So a fragment of Ondřej´s work became a part of other installations throughout the next two seasons.
Ondřej says, that he tries not to repeat himself in his work. And that it is important to him that his work is fun. I think this is the right approach. The paintings he created for Fait Gallery PREVIEW represent a whole new set. To create these pieces he mixes three different ingredients here. They are charcoal, which has been known to mankind as long as fire. The paper, which was discovered in China five thousand years ago. And neon light, known since 1910 and widely spread from the 20s to the 50s of the 20th century. Connecting these three components allows him to reveal a new level of communication permeating from the surface to the depths of Ondřej's work. Connecting the neon lights into the socket means Ondřej's work becomes totally dependent on electricity. The unmistakable reference to Dan Flavin is for Ondřej also a kind of criticism of commercialism of the current society.
While in previous cycles Ondřej Kotrč worked with light in a passive way – for example without sunshine the audience did not have the same experience from the object – we can now understand the use of electricity in his work as a kind of breakthrough. At the same time Ondřej demonstrates his desire not to repeat himself and to constantly come up with something to rephrase his work and move it to the next level.
Ondřej Kotrč is an author whose work I enjoy watching and I always enjoy working with. His approach to contemporary minimalist art production is fresh and the effort not to repeat himself makes the viewer wonder with what will Ondřej "come up" next time.