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.
The Islamic State is the most successful terrorist group in human history. They receive global recognition through their smart use of social media, which results in many young people joining ISIS in order to take part in the Jihad. The propaganda videos show very graphically the execution of their prisoners and enemies and shock repeatedly the world. Those professionally well made clips draw especially our attention because of the familiar look we know from Hollywood movies and TV series. It happens vice versa when we try to cope with the shown cruelty: We reference pop culture when we watch those videos. As long as we think these atrocities could be fiction, the whole content remains digestible and can easily be transformed into entertainment. The smallest unit of entertainment is a joke - one central piece in the exhibition “Erase / Rewind“ - found in the commentary section of an ISIS article posted by the avant-garde blog gawker.com.
Gawker.com hosts also an article which became infamous in 2011. Asma al-Assad, the wife of the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, was glorified as “A Rose in the Desert“ in a long article originally published by the magazine Vogue, right before the civil war started and the situation for millions of Syrian citizens escalated. Not only the wife as a fashion icon was subject of the article, but also Syria’s exemplary role in the Middle East: The Peacemaker! A couple of weeks later, it was revealed that the article was financed and commissioned by the Assads to promote their country, as well as to distract from their vicious style of government, which lead to the initial protests - as part of the Arab spring - and to the ongoing civil war which still keeps the world in suspense. After the article was pulled from the Vogue’s website, it can only be found in the hard copy of the March Issue of 2011, on gawker.com and the pro-Assad website presidentassad.net: As a masterpiece of propaganda!
The Assads are passionate users of Instagram - another channel for their propaganda. One post shows a picture promoting a flag contest for the Syrian Independence Day in 2014, for which you could submit your self-drawn flag of Syria. The example drawing in the photograph was made by one of the Assads’ children with color pencils. It is striking how the Syrian regime exploits social media (and even their own kids) in a similar smart way like ISIS does. The images are touching in their kindness and appeal successfully to our sentiment. Without saying, the staged photos contradict many facts and the Assads fictionalize successively real life.
In the exhibition “Erase / Rewind“ the artists Christian Weidner and Lukas Kaufmann operate like a watch group: Within the ephemeral world of the internet and media coverage, digital information can be forgotten very quickly and in terms of emotional response, can make us look like fools very easily. The hard copy in the form of painting and object witnesses irrevocably the present time and functions as physical evidence against the lies of any oppressor. By layering the propaganda and anti-propaganda material mentioned above, a new method of infiltration is created. The exhibition “Erase / Rewind“ envisions a future, which mistakes reality for fiction: “This is how you can have peace!” (Bashar al-Assad in “A Rose in the Desert“)