26.02.2020 - 25.07.2020
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Opening: 26. 2. 2020 at 7pm
Curator: Miroslav Ambroz
In my past lives, I was a hunter and a gatherer. I would always start my everyday routine
with decorating tools, weapons and creating musical instruments for myself.
1) Even though you were considered as the creator of spatial objects, in this exhibition your major emphasis is on paintings. What was the impulse?
The new atelier, where for the first time in my life, is light, space and warmth, this helped me to finally start painting. An eternity of horizons was open in front of me, together with two big travels to Columbia and Australia, I understand this happy season as staying on an abandoned island, therefore the name "Two years’ vacation".
2) In 2004 you painted large format canvases "Roads of swifts" and "Mother Earth". In the sametime frame you also painted "Chaple of Karlin", and even before that, "Envelopes" were created, therefore in your own way you are continuing with something that was created long before?
Of course, I was already painting in the '70s during my studies. Back then I inherited very rare pigments from prof. Slánský, which I am using presently. The first time I used them was during my exhibition in Rudolfinum, when there was a need to paint something great for "Silent Hall" and a figure of the central deity arose, which is appearing in my works in different varieties. Connection with the material was always important for me. The type of work on the ground on the non-gesso canvas, together with water diluted pigments and acrylate bonds demanded this physical contact. Even in some places on the paintings, there are my footprints.
A wall painting "Chaple of Karlin" was in somewhat a cleansing exhibition after the floods in 2002, and according to an agreement I had to turn it white. The oldest envelopes date back to 1986. The style of their decoration is connected with the style of "Third rococo" and that epoch is accumulated in my works. In the '90s I created multiple large format envelopes, which I perceived as the object/pictures having multiple-meanings and it opened an inexhaustible line packed into certain cushions, similar to guitars. This is related to my favourite non-standard formats (ovals) and adjusting large canvasses "free" without the stretcher bar.
3) What was most interesting thing about Australia?
First of all never ending space and starry skies. Five weeks, every evening by the fire in the desert. Furthermore, colours and rock paintings as old as 60 000 years. This was the first time I have seen baobabs and eucalypti that were 800 years old, which existed way before the arrival of whites... breathtaking scenery. I brought back a lot of collected materials and natural clay, with which I am painting. Australians have a "story" for each god, they are mostly cautionary stories, which have helped to keep the tribes viable. It appears to me as there are various imaginary divinities, however, they were born from the transcultural backdrop. Something interesting is that the rock paintings and figures on it are very similar all around the world, but I am not the type who would study these things in much detail. On the other hand, I deliberately keep certain blindness, to be astonished, and I would recommend this to consumers. Those who ask too much will learn too much.
4) Some rusty images look a bit apocalyptic, did it have any specific impulse?
"Rusty images" are painted by some rusty mud from a forested swamp in West Czech. In fact, they are ferric nano-shells of microorganisms. I discovered this beautiful colour in the '70s, which came back to me now, to extract it artistically. Thematically, they partly follow the cycle of thermo-drawings "Landscapes from Timelessness" or the cycle of graphics "Giants", where the power of nature is personified into supernatural beings. People desire to witness a miracle or other paranormal acts, and we have this advantage that we can also paint them. Also, people are drawn to the aesthetic of natural disasters and the theatre of extinction. Towards the end however, the road took me elsewhere.
5) When you were in Columbia, did you try yagé -the most renowned shamanic hallucinogen?
I don’t need to check what I suspect. I don't need to meet God. I don't want to upset him. He
could stop passing me.
The interview led Miroslav Ambroz
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.