23.02.2022 - 14.05.2022
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Exhibition design, artistic collaboration: David Fesl
Graphic design of the book and pendants: Daniela & Linda Dostálková, Sonni Scheuringer
Text: Marek Pokorný
Opening: 23. 2. 2022, 7 pm
I’ll do something somehow
The most remarkable, for some perhaps somewhat old-fashioned but at the same time unusually topical aspect of Lenka Vítková's work is its emblematic nature. However, not in the art-history sense of the word when an image is directly linked with a text in a single sign unit which contains a gnomic title, allegorical representation and an epigram revealing the meaning of the enigmatic title and the even more enigmatic representation. In her case, the emblem is more appropriately understood as a metaphor for a variety of rather personal tactics and artistic strategies in uncovering meaning by obscuring it, and a multifaceted manifestation of the unity of poetry and image.
It is therefore not a literary extension of a work of art, or, conversely, of the imagery of texts but, first and foremost, a condensation of lived experience that allows the artist to perform meaning through a multi-directional exchange between the seen, the thought and the written, an exchange conducted through words, a spatial intervention, sound or moving image, a painterly gesture or the selection and processing of a specific material - in recent years, for example, plaster, which is not just the basis for painting etudes but also comes into play as a visually and haptically active thing-sign. The title of Lenka Vítková's current exhibition and the accompanying publication, First Book of Emblems, is therefore an explicit acknowledgement of the principle of her creative practice, as well as the artist’s suggestion of how the viewer (and the reader) could approach them.
Waving, circling, approaching and receding, leaning, walking, falling. Transformation. A meaning created by the movement of words and the action of the painted surface, by an image related to a sentence. A meaning emerging from the image following a sentence, from a sound or film sequence as a transposition of a word or image. Lenka Vítková's approach to her work is typified by a special kind of civility and ability to speak for herself in relation to the emerging whole of the world through subjects whose prospective banality is cancelled not only by the mentioned emblematic nature but in recent years predominantly by working on the painting, painting as a still-effective way of showing what I mean. Clues which are obviously distilled starting points include not only signs, abstract patterns and abstracted realities or objects and configurations of the seen - glimpsed, but also objects, body fragments and figures. Yet it is always about the whole. Indeed, the subtle objectivity of the subject with which Lenka Vítková is currently working is accompanied at every step by her ability to share much broader contexts, more like a condition than an explanation of the present ones, which make the choice even more significant. Or, last but not least, there is that unsentimental way in which the artist, through painterly means, lays out and activates the surface in order to keep in play the affective qualities of the creative process and their sources.
If Lenka Vítková's works and exhibitions sometimes make the sympathetic viewer feel slightly dizzy, it is due to the continuous stream of exchange between seeing and intellectual work. Her art (she is an exceptional colourist among painters of her generation and beyond) amplifies and intensifies the feeling of the viewer's physical presence in front of the painting or in its space, while at the same time giving meaning to the actual experience that the recipient is undergoing in a difficult-to-convey state of consciousness. One aspect of this type of artistic experience (emphasized by the tradition of modernism) is the result of long-standing exercises through which we still, albeit rarely, and then with a certain suspicion that we are definitely missing something, master the dialectical relationship in which the self and the universe, immediacy and mediation, subjectivity and impersonality, or tradition and its unique fulfilment, can be found. Although we can speculate about what the postmodern emancipation of the sign universe has made possible for the artist and which line of modernist subjective universalism she may be following, the artist herself has described her art practice most accurately: “I’m coming,/ don't know what I’m bringing./ I’ll start somewhere,/ I’ll do something somehow./ Some things the material will do on its own. The gestures I own.”
Text: Marek Pokorný
The project was financially supported by the City of Brno and Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.
Fait Gallery PREVIEW
Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Vernissage: 21.2.2018 at 7 pm
Curator: Tereza Rudolf
The sewing machine needle goes up and down at a steady pace. The work finished is observed, with equal persistence, by a sliding camera of the Friend of the Moon video. The close look at fabrics and their structure is typical ofTania Nikulina’s work. The camera which she uses always seems to stare a bit too long, longer than it is pleasant for the viewer, as if it was trying to penetrate the surface of objects and things which it observes, or as if trying to grasp the relations of the people in the video that are far too human, and not only for a machine. The seams of objects inhabiting Tania Nikulina’s stories are created by the same hand as the editing of the final videos. Digital cuts of the individual takes are layered like the multiple materials used by the artist, be it plastic, felt, naturalia, foam or polystyrene.
A motif often present in Nikulina’s work is the longing for a touch. This involves the need to touch a soft fabric with one’s hand, as well as touching unusual structures only with one’s eyes, like performers (in a video or gallery) not only touching one another but also simultaneously present for the objects-costumes which they inhabit and which touch them. It might be slightly exaggerating to say that this trend is stronger with the artist as a sculptor than with others, as touch can be understood as one of the primary elements of communication, both direct and indirect.
Friend of the Moon video has been stripped (with the exception of the final section) of expressive rituality and theatricality characteristic of Nikulina’s previous efforts. In contrast, the video is unusually plain, striving to appear as a routine affair. Nonetheless, the behaviour of the characters (character) in the video differs from what we see as ordinary. Not so much in the sense of strange clothes and the manner of speech, but the Moon or its friend (or both) differ from the rest of the society and find it difficult to participate in its rhythm, time and manners. Based on Sasha Sokolov’s book A School for Fools, the artist asks what our surroundings mean to us: the surroundings which sometimes softly enwrap us and at other times choke us furiously. She asks: who am I, who are you, and who are they? In the end, we all meet at one feast at one time or at different times. Some are protected by their costumes, others are imprisoned in them.