12.05.2021 - 14.08.2021
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curator: Barbora Kundračíková
Opening day: May 12 2021, 5 pm–9 pm
Even today, we still tend to understand a picture as an autonomous entity, a unique, final object which has a life of its own and naturally separates itself from the whole of the world. For that matter, we have spent a long time pursuing this, so it’s all good! However, there exists a close link between picture and word, including the inner ones. They belong to each other by their very nature, yet we seldom stress that the connection should be direct and, especially, generally accessible so that everybody can go through the same gateway. Then, however, there come moments when a picture communicates nothing but solidarity, shared being and one existence when the picture itself not only moves between horizons and transcends them but it is also absorbed by reality. This fully applies to Petr Veselý’s pictures. Their objectivity involves not only the time dimension but also a transcendental one.
Ernst Gombrich writes in his reflection on illusion that the power of interpretation can’t be overestimated, mentioning J. M. W. Turner whom he views as somebody who deliberately and in favour of what he sees suppresses all he knows about the world. Both are also relevant today, as we are moving on the same border of discernibility. Petr, however, turns not to what he can see but to what he can touch.
The moment of touch is magical, a touch has the power to take life and also to restore it. The laying of hands is an ancient ritual, hands radiate warmth and coolness, recognise, and in some cases also heal. The essence is always the same: the expression of craving for the original, the real, for what is genuine and to what we, at least imaginarily, return. Gombrich does that himself when talking about abstracted forms as a phenomenon of western visual culture which is certainly remarkable yet fatefully lacking any assessment rules. In Petr’s case, however, we move on the opposite side of the spectrum; a picture is an abstract, grey form, yet it is permanently striving at figuration, or evolves from it. At the sane time, what is abandoned calls for attention which is equally reversible, and the movement we perform during its recognition is thus cyclic and without memory. Echoes of objectivity are secondary, yet they have rules – and these manifest themselves in this way.
Petr’s work is about constants which regularly come to the fore. This regards both his poetry and what can be termed the natural life of things. As in a truly home environment things do not just appear but exist, they meander in forms and functions and their being has an order which also involves decline, so they are like this in the artist’s pictures, or rather, his pictures are like that. They show what a close link there is between them and the world if we deliberately insert them in the framework of our existence. Matter captivates.
Petr is aware of this, of course, otherwise he wouldn’t put so much effort into the bridging of the gap between reality and its image, between what has come to pass and what we expect. He also likes to enter this space, shaping it and summarizing it. Medieval altars in museums are the relics of other autonomous worlds, and the objects of the ordinary world devoid of their function are also like that. Naturally, this is an expression of reduction, but also concentration and (controlled) absence which, paradoxically, grows stable in its loss and thus resonates all the more its original function and talent. A hand frozen in motion, a shirt stretched in its bend moving from the field to the picture and beyond expresses this perfectly. As Ivan Blecha writes, “a reflection that the restricted position of the observer (…) leads to a restricted presentation of a thing is wrong and the statement about the necessary non-representationality of some aspects of reality, about its permanent distortion, is in fact unreasoned extrapolation.“ A picture is often the only thing left of something that once existed. It is a notch of a knife in a cupboard.
 E. H. Gombrich. Umění a iluze. Studie o psychologii obrazového znázorňování. Praha 2019, p. 235.
 In the last decades the formative task and nature of “things” has also been resumed by the western philosophical tradition, namely by Bruno Latour and object-oriented ontology (OOO).
 Ivan Blecha. Prostory zjevnosti. Dílo ve struktuře světa. Zlín 2018, p. 129.
Fait Gallery MEM, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Opening: 26 Februar 2020 at 7pm
Curator: Denisa Kujelová
The interest in the record of natural sounds and rhythms links Olga Karlíková with the context of conceptual artists and composers of experimental music who combine tones with visual art. Her work captures the sounds of various animal species and natural phenomena in the painting medium, with the graphic records of bird songs making up the most prominent part of her oeuvre.
Olga Karlíková started to work on a cycle of original drawings involving the acoustics of anatural space, represented in her case by the songs of birds and later by the trajectories and rhythms of their flight, in 1965, and the series anticipated the efforts of other Czechoslovak conceptual artists responding to nature: It was in 1965. I was walking through the Chotkovysady park, I remember this distinctly, and I was listening to a thrush. Suddenly I also saw it. I made some very awkward notes in my pocket calendar. Apart from numerous, systematically created series of drawings capturing the songs of birds and whales, the croaking of frogs as well as the sounds of bells and drums, the artist produced over the next forty years drawing records of various natural phenomena, for example, the trajectory of a ray of sunlight at equinox.
Karlíková’s creative approach and thinking in the 1960s came close to Josef Šíma, and especially to Václav Boštík and Jiří John. However, the intuitive, lyrical and intimate sensitivity to landscape is in her work subordinated to the fascination by natural phenomena and laws and their ardent exploration, with strict self-discipline and precise, systematic work. Her unique records of acoustic perceptions show parallels with the work of artists experimenting with the new possibilities of musical record. Yet in contrast to John Cage and his pupils from the Black Mountain College, Milan Grygar and his performance acoustic drawings and other artists employing free musical records, Olga Karlíková’s work did not primarily serve reinterpretation but captured actions in progress. Olga Karlíková’s work in its unique fashion of the transformation of natural acoustic phenomena anticipated conceptual leanings in Czechoslovak art, and through its strong ties with landscape also the work of Dalibor Chatrný, Marian Palla, Miloš Šejn, Inge Kosková, Pavel Holouš, Milan Maur and others.
In order to induce synaesthesic perception, i.e. the interlinking of the visual aspect of an artwork and its sound model, the records of bird songs are presented together with their possible sound “templates” - the recordings of the songs of particular birds. The identification of the individual bird species and the following classification roughly corresponding to audio-recordings could be reconstructed thanks to the artist’s natural need for making records of different types of bird voices, thus creating a kind of index of linear signs. Selected drawings of a more intimate character produced authentically in the natural environment include both records of the individual bird voices and the wholes reflecting the layering and intertwining of the songs of several species of song birds.
Olga Karlíková’s conceptual works place various natural phenomena and processes in direct connection with landscape, making its time present. She understood her work as a process taking place in a real time and space, directly linked with it, which is why the creative process can’t draw on memories or a sudden inspiration. Her perception and interpretation of natural phenomena resonating with universalism are close to the ideas of the Swiss philosopher and anthropologist Adolf Portmann and his neo-evolutionary findings published in the 1960s. Portmann stated as early as 1951 in his lecture “Time in the Life of Organisms” at the conference of the Eranos association: Each form of life is for us a shape which evolves not only in space but also in time. In a sense, living creatures are materialized time, like melodies. Life manifests itself in time shapes.