26.02.2020 - 25.07.2020
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Opening: 26. 2. 2020 at 7pm
Curator: Miroslav Ambroz
In my past lives, I was a hunter and a gatherer. I would always start my everyday routine
with decorating tools, weapons and creating musical instruments for myself.
1) Even though you were considered as the creator of spatial objects, in this exhibition your major emphasis is on paintings. What was the impulse?
The new atelier, where for the first time in my life, is light, space and warmth, this helped me to finally start painting. An eternity of horizons was open in front of me, together with two big travels to Columbia and Australia, I understand this happy season as staying on an abandoned island, therefore the name "Two years’ vacation".
2) In 2004 you painted large format canvases "Roads of swifts" and "Mother Earth". In the sametime frame you also painted "Chaple of Karlin", and even before that, "Envelopes" were created, therefore in your own way you are continuing with something that was created long before?
Of course, I was already painting in the '70s during my studies. Back then I inherited very rare pigments from prof. Slánský, which I am using presently. The first time I used them was during my exhibition in Rudolfinum, when there was a need to paint something great for "Silent Hall" and a figure of the central deity arose, which is appearing in my works in different varieties. Connection with the material was always important for me. The type of work on the ground on the non-gesso canvas, together with water diluted pigments and acrylate bonds demanded this physical contact. Even in some places on the paintings, there are my footprints.
A wall painting "Chaple of Karlin" was in somewhat a cleansing exhibition after the floods in 2002, and according to an agreement I had to turn it white. The oldest envelopes date back to 1986. The style of their decoration is connected with the style of "Third rococo" and that epoch is accumulated in my works. In the '90s I created multiple large format envelopes, which I perceived as the object/pictures having multiple-meanings and it opened an inexhaustible line packed into certain cushions, similar to guitars. This is related to my favourite non-standard formats (ovals) and adjusting large canvasses "free" without the stretcher bar.
3) What was most interesting thing about Australia?
First of all never ending space and starry skies. Five weeks, every evening by the fire in the desert. Furthermore, colours and rock paintings as old as 60 000 years. This was the first time I have seen baobabs and eucalypti that were 800 years old, which existed way before the arrival of whites... breathtaking scenery. I brought back a lot of collected materials and natural clay, with which I am painting. Australians have a "story" for each god, they are mostly cautionary stories, which have helped to keep the tribes viable. It appears to me as there are various imaginary divinities, however, they were born from the transcultural backdrop. Something interesting is that the rock paintings and figures on it are very similar all around the world, but I am not the type who would study these things in much detail. On the other hand, I deliberately keep certain blindness, to be astonished, and I would recommend this to consumers. Those who ask too much will learn too much.
4) Some rusty images look a bit apocalyptic, did it have any specific impulse?
"Rusty images" are painted by some rusty mud from a forested swamp in West Czech. In fact, they are ferric nano-shells of microorganisms. I discovered this beautiful colour in the '70s, which came back to me now, to extract it artistically. Thematically, they partly follow the cycle of thermo-drawings "Landscapes from Timelessness" or the cycle of graphics "Giants", where the power of nature is personified into supernatural beings. People desire to witness a miracle or other paranormal acts, and we have this advantage that we can also paint them. Also, people are drawn to the aesthetic of natural disasters and the theatre of extinction. Towards the end however, the road took me elsewhere.
5) When you were in Columbia, did you try yagé -the most renowned shamanic hallucinogen?
I don’t need to check what I suspect. I don't need to meet God. I don't want to upset him. He
could stop passing me.
The interview led Miroslav Ambroz
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Opening: 27 March 2019 at 7pm
Curator: Denisa Kujelová
The presentation of artists of several generations and diverse artistic approaches is always an opportunity to revise established categories and the vocabulary of practice tested by history. The relations between the works from the most extensive selection from the Fait Gallery collection so far are thus showed in regard to the relative borders of defining terms, the works of art and the viewer. Although the attitudes of the individual artists differ at many levels, in most cases they share the reduction of shapes and their fragmentarization, the incorporation of letters and signs into visual compositions and experimental work, and the conceptual precision of ideas.
Owing to the extent of the collection, and despite the generous space, the selected works naturally make only a sample, not a comprehensive one but one that demonstrates its direction. The chosen categories of subjects, the borders of which are blurred with many of the pieces by their blending, serve to link the Czech avant-garde, Czechoslovak art of the second half of the 20th century and their reverberations in contemporary art. A major part of the exhibition is devoted to artists whose work features collage, assemblage and installation, or whose output often manifests the principle of layering and assembling different fragments, symbols and letters. The majority of the artworks thus employ the strategies of repetition, juxtaposition and dislocation of the original shapes and signs.
The shifting of objects or texts from one context to another generating new meanings is one of the defining characteristics of modernism and a procedure which was formerly only employed in art. At present, however, it is a process that has become a determining principle affecting social and cultural life, as well as man as an individual, his identity and personal integrity. Creative procedures of fragmentarization and appropriation have given art a great deal of freedom, which is also why collage and the use of graphemes have counted among the most distinct techniques and means of expression in art since the early 20th century until now, especially for their ability to find connections faster and more spontaneously through the use of reduction and paradox.
The discovery of the possibilities of fragment both in image and typography and its ability to produce metaphors endowed modern art with new possibilities of hidden creative potential such as work with coincidence in dadaism, automatism and free associations insurrealism. Typography only entered visual art in the early 20th century, first in the form of the use of fragments of letters in cubism, later in futurism, dadaism, constructivism, surrealism, lettrism, abstract expressionism, pop art and conceptual art, and it finally became a natural artistic means.
Although the typewriter started to be used in typographic experiments with language as early as the 1920s, it was not fully used until the 1950s and 1960s during a worldwide wave of experimental poetry. Word ceased to be a semantic unit, being replaced by any sign on the keyboard including punctuation and diacritics. In contrast to the avant-garde and post-war neo-avant-garde tendencies, experimental poetry of the 1960s and conceptual tendencies were inspired by the linguistic system and the attribution of new semantic properties to grapheme. Conceptual poetry was in the Czechoslovak milieu enriched by further possibilities of the semiotic play with letters, and several artists developed in parallel the concepts of tautology, semantic shifts, associative links and complications, repetitive monotonous texts and semantic drawings.
In general terms, the discovery of fragmentarization opened new possibilities in work with symbols, archetypes and cultural stereotypes, and created a template for the redefinition of the existing constructs and the evolution of new approaches defying the previous ones. This possibility also points out the link between works on different levels, despite the fact that the artists represented approach all these creative strategies from different perspectives and with different motivation. The displayed works present the principle of collage, the use of letters, abstraction and reduction not only as means for the search of autonomous artistic form, often with apparent modernist morphology, and a point of departure rich in associations, but also as an element critically related through its essence to various manners of the isolation and separation of individual segments from a whole. Reflecting the origin of visual, verbal, and acoustic entities, the current selection aims at their reconstruction, thus closing a circle of subjects typified by their validity in the history of art and by a universal value in its introspective role.