25.10.2023 - 13.01.2024
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curator: Denisa Kujelová
Opening: 25th October, 7 pm
The early work of Jiří Hilmar (*1937) was marked by the art trends of the time, especially the principles of Concretism (whose club he co-founded in Czechoslovakia in 1967), as well as by the activation of the viewer, the processuality of perception and the thematization of movement. Kinetic objects in the form of mechanical machines and objects working with light sources and shadow effects were followed by several years of the artist's thorough investigation of the phenomenon of mobile procedural perception in paper reliefs folded into optical structures. These mostly square formats of various sizes produced an optical illusion through the movement of the observer and the change of his or her position in relation to the work, thus transforming the visual qualities of the surface.
In the square, whose shape the artist saw as an ideal anonymous form referring to the ideas of Piet Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich or Victor Vasarely, he created structures in various systems according to mathematical principles and seriality from horizontally, vertically and diagonally arranged monochrome or multicolour strips of folded and, in many cases, also incised paper. The opto-kinetic principle was achieved by varying the height of the strips, their shape, the method and degree of their bending, the method of perforation, and also the shape and colour of the tempera used for individual fragments (most often circles and their sections). The variation of contrasts and intersections continued after his emigration to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1969, where he settled for more than 40 years.
The active involvement of the viewer was also part of the next cycle of works which were defined by a system of overlapping vertical strips or strings. In this new structural plan, in which one of the elements was always firmly attached to the base and the other hung freely above it, the works could again be set in motion, now literally, by the participation of the observer. Parallel to this, in the 1970s the artist created monochromes from layered tracing paper, fixed to canvas or wooden boards, most often also in square formats. The individual layers of transparent paper were only recognizable by their deliberate distortion with various types of creasing, perforation, rippling and gradations or variations of the repetitive regular patterns of the collaged fragments.
After moving to the Halfmannshof art colony in Gelsenkirchen in 1974, located in the heavily devastated landscape of the Ruhr area, Hilmar naturally moved towards environmental issues. In addition to paper, he began to incorporate into his reliefs natural materials such as jute, wax, kaolin and also wood, in the form of sticks and matchsticks. In the 1980s, when nature became an equal co-agent in his work, and creative intervention in natural processes started to prevail in his work, he turned permanently to a single material - wood. He partially dismantled the original autonomous shapes of branches and trunks and then reconstructed them by rejoining, tying or crossing them into new units of wooden objects and installations. He deliberately interfered in the originally round found fragments of trees in an invasive and openly completely contradictory square manner followed by a final gesture of re-rounding, in order to manifest the oneness of man and nature, which he sought in his work and life.
HILMAR, Jiří, VÍCHOVÁ, Ilona, HIEKISCH-PICARD, Sepp. Jiří Hilmar/ Adagio. Praha, Museum Kampa – Nadace Jana a Medy Mládkových, 2015.
POHRIBNÝ, Arsen. Klub konkrétistů po dvaceti letech. In: Revue K, 1988–89, nos. 32–33.
“Optické reliéfy“ Jiřího Hilmara, Rozhlas, ČRo 3 – Vltava, Mozaika, 24 February 2011.
 The principles of Concretism were defined in interwar art by Theo van Doesburg, who first used and coined the term in 1930, and later in the 1930s by Max Bill, the main promoter of this art movement. De Stijl, the Bauhaus, and also the Russian avant-garde were followed in the 1950s by the activities of the Swiss neo-concretists led by Richard Paul Lohse, and partly by kinetic art in the Düsseldorf Zero movement, the GRAV group in Paris, the Gruppo N in Padua and the Gruppo T in Milan.
 Together with Tomáš Rajlich, Radoslav Kratina, Miroslav Vystrčil and the art theorist Arsén Pohribný he co-founded the KK/CC - The Concretists’ Club (9 May 1967 - ca. 1972), whose activities were followed by the new KK2 in 1997 and KK3 in 2007.
 In this context it is also worth mentioning hydro-kinetic objects from 1974.
 “Optické reliéfy“ Jiřího Hilmara, Rozhlas, ČRo 3 – Vltava, Mozaika, 24 February 2011.
Fait Gallery MEM
Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Vernissage: 21.2.2018 at 7 pm
Curator: Jan Zálešák
“It’s a man’s world,” James Brown sang fifty years ago, a world of strong men who give and take, and to which the ultimate sense is only given by a woman’s love. I realise that I inadvertently experienced the slow decline of this world as a boy and later as a teenager when watching TV series with David Hasselhoff. Detective Michael Knight, the hero of the Knight Rider series, became Mitch Buchannon, a Baywatch lifeguard chief, self-confident on the beach but a failure at home. The truth is that the images of the crisis of the western man flashing between the slow-motion takes of luscious female lifeguards seemed as unreal to me in the post-socialist universe of the 1990s as KITT the talking car.
When discussing the exhibition with Peter Puklus and Radek Brousil, we didn’t talk about these TV series. However, I’m sure they had watched them as well, at least occasionally, and found in them the prefigurations of manhood that they were later forced to reassess and throw away, along with many other men who no longer feel part of the “man’s world”. I want to believe that this world is steadily declining, yet its images, perpetuated on and on, still dominate the imagination of most people. With this exhibition centred around counter-hegemonic images of manhood Brousil and Puklus enter an imaginary battlefield. Raising questions about the nature of the modern man, which is the leitmotiv of the show, is general on the one hand, while on the other it is anchored in the personal experience of the artists.
They were both born in 1980, and their work is rooted in the photographic medium, without being bound by conventions of what a photograph is and what it should look like. They learnt about each other through an artists’ residence centre in Banská Štiavnica, and a certain fascination with the similarity of their work – which at some moments had an air of them being each other’s creative double – has culminated in a joint exhibition in the Mem gallery. This, however, also brought to light distinct differences between the artists: while Radek Brousil seeks the most up-to-date language for his works, Péter Puklus has long focused on the fine-tuning of his own idiolect.
The exhibition entitled briefly Stupid can be viewed as a double introspection developed in a dialogue. Specific experience and attitudes, particular concerns, uncertainties and desires are transformed into symbolic contents that are more universal and leave space for an empathetic identification. In a divided world in which listening to others seems more difficult than flying to the Moon, the understanding born of empathy appears to be the highest purpose of art.