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.
The director JJ Abrams apologised shortly after the premiere of the movie Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) to the fans for over-using the special effect that simulates an optical phenomenon called a "lens flare". At the same time he announced that he will get to remove them from some scenes. "But I'll tell you, there are times when I'm working on a shot, I think, 'Oh this would be really cool... with a lens flare." Matěj Smetana used the same phenomenon occurring in the refraction of light in the objective lens, sometimes considered as a defect, but also frequently added to films and photographs as a feature of "amateur shots" and captured it in a physical form. When hanging in the free space above the ground it seems to be simulating the situation where this phenomenon does not occur in the recording of the camera, but in the human eye.
Smetana, of course, is not interested in creating a mirage. He wanted to materialise the optical experience through technology. He has also based other works on the same principles. He photographed a bee so that the reflections of light on the camera lens formed hexagonal honeycomb shapes. He chopped vegetables in a way that the cut pieces suggested rotation and geometrical cuts through a virtual object in a program for 3D modeling. He turned the reflection of trees on water by using a magnifying glass, so the trees are no longer facing down, but are turned along the horizontal axis.
The optical equipment and visual technology expands our sensory experience. They do not stand outside of our physiological reality, it is not "us and the machines", but they are a part of our subconscious that started, all be it a long time ago, our transformation into cyborgs. It is increasingly more difficult (and not only at the level of sensory perception)to find the boundary between organic and synthetic. But Smetana, as a visual artist, is searching for visual metaphors for this development. He asks a man to record the stroboscope flashes. Therefore giving to the machine (similarly as to a puppet at some other thing) human impulses and then he thinks whether this exchange will have any effect on their reception.