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, 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. Thanks to his work in the National Gallery depository 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. 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Opening: 5. 6. 2019 at 7pm
Curator: Domenico de Chirico
“There is virtually no difference between biological and psychic formations. As a plant produces blossoms, so the psyche produces symbols.”
C. G. Jung
Psychoanalysis and Analytical Psychology
The word “syrup” is derived from the Old Arabic sharāb, and its tendency towards taking different forms indicates holiness and mystery as it is inherently typified by blending — a “magic” mixture taken in order to achieve the state of bliss. This concoction is probably emerald green, precious and holy — the Holy Grail has an impenetrable green glow resembling absinth. This life-giving substance also works as a fuel, a life-giving sap presenting the human ego with the most disquieting questions, the most radical illogical codes, i.e. the energy which is the essence of life. A plant originating in this way is not simply a plant; it represents a seed from which forests will grow: paintings, in which the internal response surfacing in all its dialectics of return is manifested. These responses are not generated by emotive internality; they are close to rituals and sense but are shrouded in hints and always in a permanent tension with interstellar phases discernible between a distant leaf and a hand, a close sound and velvet.
According to C. G. Jung, the opposites of the persona and the ego are the inhabitants of the unconscious, aka archetypes. These are defined as the archaic relics of the psyche and as such are present from birth. They are connected with the mythical subjects of the primal spirit, have their own independent energy and initiatory character. They are strongly characterized by magic and emotions so exceptional that they are present in every human being. The Self is an authority rooted in natural forces and represents the inner controlling centre, while the task of the ego is to bring this unity to the light of consciousness so that it could aim at the constant maturing and growth of the personality. The Self changes into creative energy if the ego is devoid of any purpose-oriented thoughts and calculations, and its natural drives are at the same time the carriers of energy and a very high potential of evocation. These drives do not correspond to our individual wishes and will, as the Self requires obedience. With the ego, no contracts apply. The Self represents what is typical of the human being as such, or the essence which can only manifest as a symbol. Symbols constitute a specific language, they are natural and spontaneous forms, which is why they cannot be created.
The function of the archetypes is to give rise to the Self and enable it to shake the trees in the Orchard of promises, to hurt it and thus acquire metaphorical symbols of victory, like resin from
a tree. Igor Hosnedl’s paintings rooted in drawing and employing the archetypes as automatic drawing exist even before the brush is dipped in paint.