24.05.2023 - 29.07.2023
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curator: Pavlína Morganová
Opening: 24th May, 7 pm
We have worked since 2019 under the unconductive trash label, which is an anagram of our home towns - Duchcov (Michal Pěchouček) and Traunstein (Rudi Koval). This fatalism-tinged pun metaphorically expresses the internal aspects of the joint working method. Trash accumulates during every creative process and production. Trash is an important and familiar concept from the landscape of cultural values. The The retardation property of the unconductive rules out the regulation of trash and the control of the direction of creative energy. The brand is therefore our distilled manifesto - in art, we do not consider it important to finish things. What matters is the beginning of creative activity, not its completed result. The purpose of our collaboration is to remove the layers of the past and discover a new artistic identity.
The starting point of our artistic interaction is the easel painting - it proved to be a suitable and accessible means in a joint search for a new linguistic and content identity. At the core of our collaboration is the desire to shed the layers of our own past, i.e. to learn to forget our original artistic handwritings. We explore a new painterly handwriting through different materials and methods, including the space and time dimensions of art. In a pair, it is possible to discover new subjects for artistic retelling and new ordinariness. We experiment with artistic means while trying to "moderate" the intensity and interconnectedness of joint everyday activities. We include in art not only common knowledge but also ordinary experiences, situations that can be planned and experienced together. We focus on one-day and long-term challenges. We try to employ this experience of subtle everyday reality in robust wholes such as exhibitions.
The title of the current exhibition LARGELY OBSERVED is inspired by one of the terms of the European macroseismic earthquake scale. It identifies a degree of critical condition that is widely observed, but need not be taken fatally - for us it is a possible expression of the quality of the viewer's experience, the power of the inner experience of an artwork. The exhibition opens with our first collaborative works, burning daylight (2020), and continues with unconductive chronology (2023), a series of forty-eight paintings sewn together. At the centre are two extensive cycles of paintings, gold tint (2022) and virgin blue (2023), inspired by research into visual evidence of suppressed stories of the past. We have conceived the exhibition as a dialogue between two worlds: past and present, big and small. Through monochromatic work with colour and figurative detail, we attempt to tell real stories of the 20th century that resonate with our everyday lives today.
virgin blue (2023)
This installation of paintings and a monumental work close to architecture, design and large-scale relief painting is inspired by period photographs of one of England's first women football teams, Dick, Kerr Ladies F.C., which was formed during the First World War. Despite achieving considerable popularity and sporting success, the team faced strong opposition from the Football Association which banned women from playing on their pitches and stadiums for fifty years. The reason for the ban was to "protect" women who, according to the association, were not physically capable of playing football. The series of paintings thus refers not only to the pitfalls of women's emancipation but also to the period of the world wars, marked by many structural social changes.
burning daylight (2020)
The first works of unconductive trash were created as an experiment - the artists jointly modified paintings created by Rudi Koval in 2017. The burning daylight series thus captures the moment of the encounter of two artistic personalities and their incompatible handwritings. A dialogue between abstraction and figuration, the painterly approached surface and the drawing of a sewing machine, the removal of a canvas and its stretching onto a different format, the elimination of what already existed as well as the clarification of work with paint were all part of a search for new procedures and subjects.
unconductive chronology (2023)
The continuous series of forty-eight paintings is conceived as a monumental element in space and as a sequence of film frames for a motion picture. The individual canvases show an intervention that shrinks their surface through repeated stitching, thus creating volume. The fabric creases irreversibly even after stretching on a wooden frame. Unconductive trash works on two sewing machines simultaneously, with minimum checking of the result and according to specified conditions that are repeated. In doing so, they capture a personal unity in something that is both work and idleness, that is both festive and ordinary.
unconductive loop (2023)
The subject of this interactive installation is the mechanics of the sewing machine, its magical sound and its unsurpassed contribution to human civilization. It is the stepping mechanism of the machine that made the movement of the film strip in the camera possible. The driving force behind this work is the observing audience - without their presence the work wouldn’t exist.
gold tint (2022)
The gold tint cycle of paintings is loosely inspired by documentary photographs of everyday life of soldiers during the Second World War. For example, a series of reportage photographs taken in 1940 by John Topham while working in the RAF intelligence shows a home guard unit in Gravesend, England rehearsing an entertaining Christmas show - the soldiers performed in female roles and clothes. The rehearsal was interrupted by an alarm and everyone had to move to a defensive position, there was no time to unmask and change into uniforms. The whole story, including the rehearsal, is documented in several telling snapshots. They capture the desire of the British soldiers to forget the reality of war for a while, to have fun and to make present the missing female element - to let the yearning for it sublimate. The images were censored for a long time by the British Ministry of Information to prevent them from being exploited by the enemy as they placed the soldier-hero in a completely new situation.
Gender parody and cross-dressing common in the theatre are not unique in the military, either as evidenced, for example, in the book Soldier Studies (Martin Dammann, ed., Soldier Studies. Cross-Dressing in der Wehrmacht, Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2019), with amateur photographs showing scenes featuring German soldiers dressed up as women - scenes that were in direct contradiction to Nazi ideology.
The scenes in the pictures captured through specific gestures and situations symbolically touch upon many aspects of today's discussion on gender stereotypes, human desires and various forms of identities. The artists want to emphasise, among other things, that men are capable of absolute empathy and that femininity is inherent to them. The search for normality and everyday ordinariness is natural for human beings, even in the chaos of war.
macroseismic scale, 2022
A figurative transcription of the European macroseismic scale which, unlike the older Richter scale, takes into account the intensity of human perception depending on physical changes. For example, the degree of largely observed defines the critical condition that is largely observed inside buildings. At this level, no one can pretend not to notice anything. Earthquakes inside buildings are felt by many, but only rarely outside.
you have no power over me, 2023
The textual intervention in the gallery window involves the line used to break the curse at the end of the fantasy film Labyrinth (directed by Jim Henson, 1986). Here, it is intended as a possible analogy to the figures of soldiers, or rather, to their experience of chaos and their desire to get out of it.
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.