Jiří Kovanda

Ten Minutes Earlier

 
Karel Adamus

Minimal Metaphors

 
Tomáš Absolon

RAFA MATA

 
František Skála

TWO YEARS' VACATION

 
Olga Karlíková

At Dawn

 
Pavla Sceranková & Dušan Zahoranský

Work on the Future

 
Selection from the Fait Gallery Collection

ECHO

 
Vladimír Kokolia

The Essential Kokolia

 
Alena Kotzmannová & Q:

The Last Footprint / Seconds Before…

 
Nika Kupyrova

No More Mr Nice Guy

 
Markéta Othová

1990–2018

 
Valentýna Janů

Salty Mascara

 
Jan Merta

Return

 
Radek Brousil & Peter Puklus

Stupid

 
Milan Grygar

LIGHT, SOUND, MOTION

 
Svätopluk Mikyta

Ornamentiana

 
Denisa Lehocká

Luno 550

 
Eva Rybářová

KURT HERMES

 
Christian Weidner a Lukas Kaufmann

ERASE/REWIND

 
Markéta Magidová

TERTIUM NON DATUR

 
Tomáš Bárta

EXTERNAL SETUP

 
Václav Stratil

LANDSCAPES

 
Ondřej Kotrč

TOO LATE FOR DARKNESS

 
Kateřina Vincourová

"WHENEVER YOU SAY."

 
Jiří Franta & David Böhm

BLIND MAN’S DREAM

 
Ewa & Jacek Doroszenko

EXERCISES OF LISTENING

 
Jan Poupě

SET OF VIEWS

 
Peter Demek

STATUS

 
Josef Achrer

BACKSTORIES

 
Radek Brousil

HANDS CLASPED

 
Katarína Hládeková and Jiří Kovanda

SIAMESE UNCLE & MONTAGE

 
Jiří Valoch

WORDS

 
František Skála

TRIBAL

 
Jiří Franta and Ondřej Homola

A BLIND MASTER AND A LIMPING MONK

 
Alžběta Bačíková and Martina Smutná

CARPE DIEM

 
THE SELECTION FROM THE FAIT GALLERY COLLECTION

THE FRAGMENTS OF SETS / THE SELECTION FROM THE FAIT GALLERY COLLECTION

 
Tomáš Absolon

MONET ON MY MIND

 
Kamila Zemková

THE DEAD SPOTS

 
Johana Pošová

WET WET

 
Ivan Pinkava

[ANTROPOLOGY]

 
SELECTION FROM THE FAIT GALLERY COLLECTION

READY OR NOT, HERE I COME

 
Veronika Vlková & Jan Šrámek

THE SOURCE

 
Jan Brož

SSSSSS

 
ONE MOMENT / PART ONE: PRIVATE COLLECTION FROM BRNO

COLLECTOR'S CYCLE OF IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTIONS

 
Alice Nikitinová

IT WOULDN'T BE POINTLESS TO

 
Ondřej Basjuk

THE CULT EXHIBITION

 
Tomáš Bárta

THINGS YOU CAN´T DELETE

 
HE SELECTION FROM THE FAIT GALLERY COLLECTION

FOR MANY DIFFERENT EARS

 
Katarína Hládeková

TO START THE FIRE

 
Marek Meduna

AMONG THE DOG THIEFS

 
THE SELECTION FROM THE FAIT GALLERY COLLECTION

WORDS AMONG SHAPES / SHAPES AMONG NAMES

 
Lukas Thaler

THE PROPELLER

 
Krištof Kintera

Hollywoodoo!

 
Ondřej Homola

ARANGE

 
THE SELECTION FROM THE FAIT GALLERY COLLECTION FOCUSED ON THE YOUNGEST GENERATION

TETRADEKAGON

 
Tomáš Bárta

SOFTCORE

 
Richard Stipl

SENSE OF AN END

 
Lubomír Typlt

THEY WON'T ESCAPE FAR

 
Kateřina Vincourová

THE PRESENCE AS
A TRILL

 
SELECTION FROM THE FAIT GALLERY COLLECTION

OPEN

 
Christian Weidner
/ Vincent Bauer
/ Cornelia Lein

HERE AND
SOMEWHERE
ELSE

 
The selection from the FAIT GALLERY collection

THE SELECTION
FROM THE
COLLECTION

 
Alena Kotzmannová
/ Jan Šerých

A CHI-
LIAGON



Jiří Kovanda / Ten Minutes Earlier

08.10.2020 - 17.04.2021

Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno

Curator: Denisa Kujelová

Special opening day: October 8, 4 pm–9 pm

 

Jiří Kovanda’s work is typified by several trademark aspects which manifest themselves continuously, from early actions and installations through postmodern drawings and paintings, collages, assemblages and objects of the 1990s to the current interventions, installations and performances: inconspicuousness, efforts at contact, humbleness, simplicity, spontaneity, sensitivity, humour and manipulation with ego.

 

The austere rendering of low-key, almost indiscernible installations and interventions is already apparent in Kovanda’s early actions in which he examined the most elementary possibilities of nonverbal communication. Back in the 1970s, the philosopher and art theorist Petr Rezek pointed out an interesting fact, saying that Kovanda’s actions signified, above all, a desire for contact. At the same time, they are set not to be fulfilled: they were often conceived so that they forced the artist to work with his natural shyness and to go beyond this mental barrier. The participants were placed in unknown situations outside the framework of art, or situations which through their non-diversion from normal behaviour remained invisible for viewers, and were only made visible by their subsequent documentation by means of photography and presentations in gallery contexts.

Photodocumentation was crucial in the next phase of Kovanda’s work in which his physical presence was gradually replaced by mere records of his activity. With installations intervening in private and public environments without the presence of viewers,  photography presented the only possibility of recording the artist’s traces in the form of various objects of daily use and trivial materials installed completely inconspicuously in different places, both outdoors and indoors, also regarding the indiscernibility and ephemerality of these interventions. The artist already articulated his completely natural strategy of creating an unexpected context for an object and leaving a trace of his activity in his early works such as fallen leaves stuck to the ground with a sellotape, wooden wedges inserted between cobblestones and a pile of pine needles and nails in the forest, or interventions in  interiors, for example, a flower pot hidden behind a pillar[1], a string tied around the same pillar two months later and a white string stretched across a room in Kovanda’s home. 

Kovanda’s actions frequently involved banal situations, ordinary activities and mundane tasks that we do automatically, yet acted out in a shifted context. Likewise, in his installations and interventions the artist shifts ordinary, routinely used objects to a completely new, unexpected level by removing them from their original situation and taking away their primary utility function.[2] Thanks to his work in the National Gallery depository[3] Jiří Kovanda first started to use in his installations material related to installation practice in the everyday gallery run, for example strings, paper, glass and wooden wedges. He also employs things of daily use and household objects including foods in his current installations and interventions, along with objects typical of a particular place[4]. Through them he makes a space more visible and defines its individual parts, and thus also slightly manipulatively determines how a particular space and its layout is perceived by viewers and sets a new manner of movement in this space. Jiří Kovanda’s installations are not rooted in an idea of a certain place suitable for or adjustable to a particular work; instead, he executes an idea and the preparation of a situation which is to make up the base of a new project, or of the employment of some of his older works, directly on the spot. This is also the case with the central installation Gold Ring which, perhaps most of all the works on display, prompts a reflection of values, in a metaphorical comparison of a string and a ring, an ordinary thing and an exceptional object. Everything has the same value, all depends on context and interpretation. 

 

A virtual tour of Jiří Kovanda's exhibition - Ten minutes earlier can be found here.



[1] It was a provisional gallery space in Provaznická Street. The basement room of the Odeon publishers where Jan Mlčoch worked from 1978 was originally designed as an archive, and until Mlčoch’s resignation in 1980 was used by three Prague body artists (Karel Miler, Petr Štembera and Jan Mlčoch) as a meeting place. They staged there their own performances as well as those by their close friends, including Jiří Kovanda. 

[2] In this respect, a key role in Kovanda’s art was played by Marcel Duchamp’s exhibition in the Václav Špála Gallery in 1969, prepared by the chief curator Jindřich Chalupecký in collaboration with the Milan art collector, gallery owner and art theorist Arturo Schwarz. 

[3] In 1977 Karel Miler got Kovanda a job in the National Gallery in Prague; he was responsible for a depository housed in the Municipal Library. Kovanda worked there until 1995 when he became an assistant professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, in a studio headed by Vladimír Skrepl.

[4] Not surprisingly, the artist’s installations tend to be confused with ordinary things accidentally left in a space, and as such must be carefully protected from the over-enthusiastic cleaning staff.

 

                                                                                    


Vladimír Kokolia / The Essential Kokolia

-

Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
 
Opening: 17. 10. 2018 at 19:00
 
Curator: Miroslav Ambroz
 
To see nothing
For Vladimír Kokolia painting is an opportunity to reach things that one wouldn’t be able to get at well enough in any other way. Kokolia is the type of painter who wants to really see his subject.
 
Seeing
It might seem that Kokolia wants to be considered primarily as an impressionist, in the original derogatory sense of the term. He deliberately aims for the impossible: to be, as was quipped about Monet, “only an eye”. He does not, however, believe in a prepared innocent gaze — that would be a great affectation — but relies on an acceptance of the full torrent of visual sensations, or direct visual waste, when one doesn’t have the tools (and perhaps not even a reason) to distinguish illusion from the “overwhelming disorder of the real world”.[1]  He quickly discovered that the greatest obstacle to this kind of view of the ordinary world is the knowledge about seen things that one carries in one’s head. Even the names of things are disruptive for the naked eye. Kokolia declares that information inhibits the image.
 
Seeing the seeing
Nonetheless, a painter wants to “see this seeing”. When seeing, how does a person notice that they are looking? According to Kokolia, this can happen only when we sacrifice meaning and simply let our view float. “I have the distinct impression that precisely such blank looking is the default setting of our vision. It is the most fundamental state, the ‘container’, the womb, the landscape, the pilot frequency, the Tao of seeing, only on account of which individual forms arise”, adds Kokolia.[2]  He believes that a lack of information brings astonishment. Truly, a lack of information? We know, after all, how James Joyce’s characters marvel at a sudden recognition of very fragile and evanescent moments, when a character experiences a sudden revelation about the “whatness” of a thing.
 
Similarly, for the nameless heroes in the hundreds of drawings from Kokolia’s Big Cycle, the inescapable mechanism of their actions is suddenly revealed to them at a single moment. Here, the vehicle of wonderment is an unexpected recognition of meaning. However, wonderment that is purely visual in origin is, in contrast to narrative epiphany, lacking in substance. The one who is experiencing wonderment just stares and does not actually know anything. Here, the intensity of not knowing shows the depth of wonder. It is as if the one in wonderment sees only one thing, so emptied that it can be considered null. For Kokolia, an example of such views momentarily without content are the squares and rectangles in Mondrian’s paintings. Here, they also have roots in Kokolia’s individualistic theory about cubism and in his thinking about the picture plane and “paintings within a painting”. For Kokolia, the view gradually became an independent entity in which it is possible to study only the visible content and to eliminate for the given moment both the observer and the observed thing.
 
Painting seeing
Why would the one in wonderment even paint at all? Isn’t it enough just to have the experience? A painter’s embodiment of what is seen is a passage from one world to another, and what was true in one world is not necessarily true in the other one. It is a completely new situation that presumes “the picture has the logical form of representation in common with what it pictures”. [3] A painting may be able to adapt to the form of depiction, but it also has its own special demands as a physical object covered with paint as well as an object with the aim of controlling how the viewer will see it. It must remain adequate, even if it has done away with the function of depiction. The same brushstroke is both a physical trace and also creates the ideal of an image that arises only with the viewer’s gaze.
 
Kokolia describes the realisation he had in the Hermitage Museum in 1980 while standing before one of Matisse’s paintings: “... something tells me that this is the genuine space, not the three dimensions out there; at the same time, it really and truly is on the surface, literally just oil paints on a canvas. I am looking directly at the union of the greatest abstraction and the greatest materiality…”[4]  For Kokolia, the idea of transferring images across different worlds might have its origin in printmaking. He has dedicated himself to this medium for almost as long as he has to painting (originally to be able to disseminate his drawings under the previous regime, when copy machines were under supervision). Since 1992 he has led the Studio of Experimental Graphics at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts. The themes of a matrix, an imprint and a reversal of the image appear repeatedly in his written musings. He similarly incorporates his experience with Tai Chi in his painting. Both of his Chinese teachers, Gene Chen and Zhu Jiancai, taught Tai Chi to him in a completely matter-of-fact manner, without a pseudo-spiritual overlay, and Kokolia likewise leads his brushstrokes with a consideration for the precise transfer of strength.         
 
Seeing painting
The concentration on direct, unprejudiced seeing and effort to see seeing was followed by the materialization of seeing in an artefact. Apart from this, Kokolia certainly does not underestimate the special moment when a viewer turns up in front of a picture. This is confirmed by the fact that at his exhibitions he examines in detail the distance between the viewer and the picture, their movement around it, viewing angles and orientation of the view, as well as the time spent before the picture.
For the sake of interaction, Kokolia occasionally resorts to popular or “discredited” forms. He styled one of his shows as a commercial sale in the course of which he lived, cooked and worked in the gallery. Another time he displayed “healing pictures” to which visitors were to “expose themselves”.
 
These and other strategies sought to provide viewers with sufficient time in front of pictures. Kokolia believes that the spent time itself causes that the mode of perception switches from a simple registration of visual information to abidance in a field of vision. The viewer, at least for a while, does not perceive a picture as a separate object, and the distance in the field of vision disappears. This situation can be generated, for example, by the induction of afterimages on the retina or by a view into the visual space of autostereoscopic pictures, as manifested by some of Kokolia’s exhibitions.
 
The image-in-itself
In interviews and texts, Kokolia speaks ironically about such common and seemingly problem-free terms as “communication”, “opinion” and “expression”. And he doesn’t even have the word “art” in his lexicon. So, if he isn’t just taking a position, what would he offer instead? I suspect that Kokolia has own sect (of which he is the only member) that believes in the “image-in-itself”. Meaning that images exist, even if they are independent of observation. Even if nobody has seen them yet. Perhaps it is this belief that helps him not to be perilously captive to changes in the contemporary context.
 
[1] Borges, Jorge Luis, The Cambridge Companion to Jorge Luis Borges, p. 209
[2] Kokolia Vladimír, Úžas, habilitační přednáška, 1996, Akademie výtvarných umění
[3] Wittgenstein, Ludwig, Tractatus logico-philosophicus 2.2
[4] S.M. Blumfeld, Prozření Vladimíra Kokolii, Vokno monthly, 1993, no. 27

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