05.06.2019 - 17.08.2019
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Opening: 5. 6. 2019 at 7 pm
Curator: Václav Janoščík
Exhibition architect: David Fesl
As if the main contradiction of the present didn’t lie in the very problems we are currently facing, from climate change to the revival of populism and misinterpretation. Perhaps the most serious pitfall of today is our inability to share these problems and fears, as well as values, visions and solutions.
There is a name for our involvement with the world, its building and suffering — it’s simply work. We don’t necessarily have to understand it as an occupation but as a process in which our activities and ideas are given sense and co-shape the world in which we live.
By extension, art is not just the production of exhibitions and artworks; it enters our shared imagination, enriching it with images, visions and criticism. At our exhibition for the Fait Gallery we are trying to open up this process, to invite the viewer closer, to the podium which dominates the gallery space and provides the installations with a joint framework and context.
The platform is modified for art, as well as for work and leisure in the form of a co-working space and two in-built lounges supplemented with chairs from Pavla Sceranková’s previous art projects. The podium-table thus assigns the meaning to the individual installations while at the same time it also invites the audience to enter the process, the cycle of work and leisure giving sense to both works of art and our world.
Pavla Sceranková shows the human situation ruled by the current work culture. In a series of plasticine figurines created by the pupils from an art school (the work is called Klára) she lets us observe the dissolving of shapes and the blending and merging of matter. The number of endangered species becomes a metaphor for the current environmental issues, as well
as for joint and applied work which is inevitably multiplied, affected by social expectations, and still can be shared and useful and mediate values, including aesthetic ones.
Milada, again named after a person devising the particular project and working on it, combines an elastic suit with performance. It invites you to a flexible, enchanting but subjugating part-time life which enfolds you like tight-fitting underwear. In contrast, Miloš, a figure rooted in the gallery podium, seeks a base and anchoring, perhaps even the return to reflections on nature and the corresponding rhythm, harmony and deceleration.
Our presence, be it social time or personal experience, seems to develop in loops intersecting the show, as demonstrated by the Ilja installation. It is not just a suspended loom, the return of working techniques to the space of a former factory, the picking up of the threads of work which was interrupted. It also manifests the cyclic nature of work as such, the circle of knitting and undoing, work and leisure, creation and destruction.
Dušan Zahoranský incorporates in his work the subject of communication. In a series of fake phone calls written on dummy cell phones (Mária), he comments on the overwhelming presence of (online) communication today, as well as on the isolated, private, almost absurd dimension of the possibility of instant communication.
The monumental ring (Libor) encircling the gallery ramp brings to the space office furniture and the issues of the stereotypization and commodification of work, or semiocapitalism. Our work environment and application are often subordinated to phenomena such as open space, home office, flexitime, as well as the necessity to be constantly available on email, mobile phone and social networks. In this way, capitalism does not only appropriate our time and work but also the creation of meaning and sense.
In addition, Zahoranský views critically the idea of a universal, non-specific or fully transparent language. In a series of coloured grids of digital characters, Mirek and Kateřina, he stages a combination of type, communication and digital culture, while in the central installation entitled Dušan he symbolically “stole” the letters “o” from his own email communication.
The artist works in similar fashion with the sharing of films on the popular server uloz.to (Artur series). He cut one minute from each film and uploaded the files again; not only to alter the films circulating among the server users, but also to work further with the “stolen” time. This time appears to represent the negative of work time and circulation, the possibility of hiding (as an artist) and working outside the affective loops of digital communication and the capitalist order.
Project was created with financial support of Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and
Statutory city of Brno.
Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Vernissage: 21.2.2018 at 7 pm
Curators: Denisa Kujelová & Jiří Zahrádka
Return is the movement of the Tao, yielding
is the way of the Tao. Ten thousand things
in All Under Heaven are born of what there is.
What there is is born of what there isn’t.
In a distinctive visual style rooted in his personal memory, Jan Merta transforms real-world subjects into specific projections of his own experiences. This unusually sincere approach is in its intensity and truthfulness towards the viewer remarkably transferrable and communicative. In most cases, the artist chooses as the subject matter of his paintngs, drawings and objects things and situations on the edge of ordinary attention that, however, are personally highly important for him. By removing them from their original context and by their free processing he fills them with new contents. The pure essence of seemingly ordinary objects demonstrated on a monumental scale with the use of unconventional; spatial structures provides Merta’s paintings with a strange tension, which is in some works even intensified by the refined employment of light and the atypically approached relationship between object and area when an accentuated background creates an illusory perspective.
All of Jan Merta’s works have their own raison d’etre in particular stories, and his art is so closely linked with personal experiences that it could be understood as the artist’s diary records of events, experiences, memories and reminiscences of people, objects and places. Every new painting is for him a return in thoughts, and it is therefore hardly surprising that he has chosen this word for the exhibition title. However, it should be viewed at several levels of meaning: apart from the tite of a sculpture, the motif of return also refers to the show itself, organised in exhibition rooms to which Jan Merta returns with his new project after eight years. First and foremost, it refers to regular returns to the artist’s key theme circles, as well as to particular motifs which are, nonetheless, always approached in a different way.
Within the Return exhibition, sections such as Liberec are important; the artist returns in it to the places associated with his childhood and has worked on it, on and off, for several years, as is the subject of civilization threats and cultural codes as homage to Old Masters and specific works of art. One example is Goya’s painting Third of May 1808 (1814) from which Merta borrowed the motif of a lamp. The lamp as a source of light is a vital element of the picture, not only in its form but also in its content, and Merta has utilised it several times. Last but not least, the exhibition presents works referring to the artist’s penchant for Eastern philosophy. In 2010 and 2013 Jan Merta designed the book Laozi translated by Oldřich Král, and his close friendship with this extraordinary figure reinforced his interest in Chinese philosophy. In the Fait Gallery exhibition project this leading sinologist agreed to incorporate into the LAOZI installation his sound recording of the book accompanied by Merta;s paintings with fragments of cups and saucers. These symbolize clay vessels: according to the teaching of the Tao, the meaning and purpose of their internal parts only come from emptiness.