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.
Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
30. 11. 2016 - 17. 1. 2017
Vernissage: 30.11.2016 at 19:00
Curator: Vít Havránek
Although in various exhibitions by Denisa Lehocká some objects seem to repeat, for every exhibition the artist compiles newly produced works, drawings, paintings and materials. After they have been finished she saves them in the darkness. The final art piece is thus formed of layers, in which some of the processes and objects repeat, others change based on changes of the circumstances. And this is even the case with the installation in the monumental space of the Fait Gallery.
The author describes her work as a three dimensional collage. By this she directs the observer to the views from two perspectives. From the point of spatiality, ie the history of sculptural plasticity. In this line, the viewer follows the sculptural references of forms to organic abstract sculpture, Lygia Clark and minimalism, Buckminster Fuller and Shigeru Ban. Spatiality in the meaning of a site-specific can describe the relationship of objects to the specifics of a particular place / non-place. The second perspective to which the author draws the viewer's attention is a collage. Collage as a symptomatic approach by avant-gardes of the 20th century using vivisection and stapling fragments of reality in many references from dada (Schwitters, Hausmann), through cubism, but mainly surrealism (Ernst, Oppenhem), avant-garde of the 60s (Oppermann) to the collage of forensic methods in discourses of the truth.
For a description of the sculptural parts of the installation by Denisa Lehocká (because it contains also objects) fits the concept of a slow statue. Slow sculpture: repeated soaking and drying plaster, embroidery thread, sewing beads, paint sedimentation, drying of saturated solutions, entanglement and stranding of threads, cotton, rope, etc. The slow statue not only arises slowly, but every procedure used has, within the group of sculptures and objects, guaranteed the necessary time for proceeding. Although the slow statues do not contain expressiveness, or gesture, the author can’t delegate those to third parties. The materials used are readily available, limited, which reminds the viewer of Art Pover and following trends. The dimensions of the objects are rather small, handheld, citing either a minimalist approach of putting one thing after another, or are arranged in nests, which comes from the organic set up. The form even the antiform. Objects are accurate: plaster rotating shapes created by repeated soaking and dripping plaster under the influence of gravity, artfully rolled ropes, braided leather cord, embroidered, quilted and layered fabrics, empty bowls, plastic sheeting with a hint of color, twigs painted with colour, upstands, bases, beads, saturated salt and sugar solutions, stones, cut stones, gold and celery root. Dozens of drawings on the edge of the test of colours and pigments, variations on geometric sketches, embroideries and diary entries.
From an art theorist or art historian it is required not only to translate the sensory data into verbal descriptions, but with analytical observation and historical knowledge to reveal the contents of artistic works. However, revealing is a confusing word. Ruth Noack in the text of Who's Scared of Denisa Lehocká?  comes with a few suggestions on how to interpret this work. I would like to follow up on one of her arguments preceded by the question: how do I know, how can we prove that the artist is not crazy (and that, for example, what she does, is not just a game imitating artistic practices)? Lehocká is not supposed to be crazy, because she knows what she does. Such an argument would not prove to be right, because people experiencing mental disorder typically do not doubt what they are doing and experiencing, whether it the most unreal thing. I prefer to ask how to define normality? Gladys Swain define mental illness as "a state of separation from the common sense." Melanie Klein on the other hand argues that the schizo-paranoid state, is a fate common to all subjects after their birth and normality is a way how to pacify and overcome this initial state.
Noack asks the question so openly, because she can see that the creative process of Denisa Lehocká takes place outside the functions of language and is found in the area of pre-connotation. As per Noack, Lehocká tries to postpone the possible thoughts about the meaning of art as far as possible. She works beyond the point where "to it / meaning the art / the connotation digs its claws." A similar place can exist either in one's mind (and then it would be a mind removed from one of the functions of intelligence, that is being referred to "healthy" by the social censor), or in non-human epochs or universes. It seems that Lehocká has just constructed a similar space. It is a space defined on one pole purely by empirical focus on the physical and chemical processes of materials of natural character that she works with - layering, pouring, dripping, evaporation, drying, becoming drying, painting, cutting, adding, removing ... On the other pole there is an authorial subject that although "knows what she's doing," she refuses to add a meaning to her actions. And if someone wants to enter the space where the forms are without meaning, it seems that to remove common sense is a necessary condition for a walk through. It is not about art brut, nor temporary, stimulated or controlled madness. How Noack notes it is not even passage into the space of unconscious, automatism. It actually is a syncretic mix combining the methods of art history of last century.
If we somehow deepened the nook of pre-connotation, it would be a mistake to immediately wrap Denisa Lehocká’s art work by speculation about what they should have or may imply. That is the challenge with which the artist turns to the viewer. A mediator - curator, theorist, historian should not act as an expert or the owner of the interpretation key, but as one of the most ignorant viewers.
 A. Kusá, M. Mitášová, D. Lehocká, Denisa Lehocká, SNG Bratislava, 2012, pp. 17-25.