01.06.2022 - 30.07.2022
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curators: Denisa Kujelová and Jiří Ptáček
Opening: 1. 6. 2022, 7 pm
In the exhibition project of the versatile visual artist Petr Nikl, his creative approaches intertwine in a vast imaginative garden - a kind of ecosystem of moving and seemingly static organisms cultivated by the artist, but at the same time partially self-grown, much to his delight.
Petr Nikl is one of the few Czech artists who need little introduction to the cultural public. Almost everyone will remember some of his exhibitions, a painting, drawing or print, an exhibition project he initiated, a music recording, a concert, a theatre play or a performance or, for example, a book for adults and children he wrote and illustrated. However, it is not this multi-faceted and decades-long presence of Petr Nikl in our cultural space that makes him an unmistakeable and a rather unique figure. Indeed, this presence would not be worth talking about and would be just mindless hyperactivity were it not characterized by the imaginative poetics with which the artist draws us into a fascinating space of fantasy and play.
If we were to sum up what Nikl communicates to his viewers and listeners, it would probably be a non-violently subversive impact on the consensus of dignified and pragmatic adulthood which creates a wall of restrictions and a hard-to-fulfil desire to break it, and Nikl's ability to indicate, through the outcomes of his work, a path towards the fuller experiencing of the multi-layered and mysterious nature of existence that spreads underneath the veneer of the mundane and the superficial absorption of reality.
Nikl co-founded his puppet theatre company Mehedaha as early as 1985. At that time, he was a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague where intermedia fusions or performative forms in visual art were not discussed and taught. In accordance with the ideas of the cultural nomenclature of the period about clearly defined fields for the individual artistic disciplines, they were not even considered potentially enriching.However, he soon found kindred spirits among the members of the Tvrdohlaví art group which made its first public appearance in 1987, with understanding not only for artistic activity but also for self-realization in music and theatre. Yet only in Nikl’s case involving the wide spectrum of image, sound, language and body did it become the basis of all creative activities.
Like the performances of Nikl's plays where his visual sensitivity is strongly applied, many of his art projects are determined by the performative and procedural aspects of art. This is by no means limited to paintings which are executed by mechanical machines with the artist's assistance, often in the presence of the audience. This is also true, for example, of his recent works on paper in which he explores new possibilities by dipping rolls of paper in paint in anticipation of (again) only partially predictable results. Randomness and spontaneity help the artist to cross the horizon of his own imagination and provide him with the possibility of wonder at the resulting image. They are not far from Nikl’s drawing method in which his skill taps unconscious sources and the drawing is thus "let" grow out of contents which otherwise remain inaccessible. In them, too, Nikl is merely a participant who does not have a hundred-percent control over what kind of treasure his mind and hands will bring.
The exhibition in the Fait Gallery is rooted in the metaphor of a flower bed. While a garden is associated with a branching cultural symbolism, the flower bed as its sub-component is only a kind of working subject. Under normal circumstances it is cultivated and maintained in a state where it serves well the greater whole or a given purpose which, depending on the intentions of the grower, is either ornamental or utilitarian. A flower bed that is not weeded and consequently wild is a sign of neglect, while care is characterized by a high degree of restriction and control over what can take place in this demarcated area. In contrast, Peter Nikl lets his imaginary flower beds overgrow in anticipation of the unsuspected and surprising. For him, they are not what he carefully prepares and then follows a plan but a combined activity of plants, soil, sunshine, rain, insects, earthworms, moles and other elements that enter into the process. The flower beds - not dissimilar to stretched canvases or sheets of paper because of their limits - are thus filled with actions that we can only partially observe. And anticipate even less.
Thanks to this, they can turn into fascinating revelations which, through their self-organization and somewhat "disorganized organization" take us beyond (or "under") an objective and clear understanding of reality, to its massive organicity and complexity that is never fully graspable. And yet, this "big" takes place in the encounter with something as "small"... as a flower bed, a drawing or a painted image.
Text: Jiří Ptáček
Fait Gallery PREVIEW, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Opening: 26 February 2020 at 7pm
Curator: Tímea Vitázková
We are exploring the world to know how it works by just as like peeling Baumkuchen layer by layer.
There I wish the world is surrounded by moments to know small surprising facts which shake our understanding of the world a bit but not to the extent to completely change the structure.
… like when I came to know that couscous is a type of pasta.
Čert 180 g is a type of bread, which you can find on St. Nicolaus day in Tesco, Loupák pes 60g in Albert. Although these products are on offer in self-service checkouts, there is no real chance to buy them. Mirroring this situation, “bez omáčky” is most likely an option, that you can choose from while ordering fries from the same type of self-checkouts, but this wish may not be granted. Sometimes we are offered things by the system, which we cannot choose from, another time for a change we can choose things, which will not be allowed by the system. These are outwardly insignificant and easily overlooked objects and situations. We stop and think about it for a while and then we continue on with life, or we don’t pay attention to them at all.
Nonetheless, Minami Nishinaga with her daily obsession and sensitivity towards detail, pays attention to those situations, appreciates them and thus transforms them into her works. The essence of her work results in mostly objects and miniature sculptures, often having performative or audiovisual overlap. One of the main themes, which the artist deals with, is language. At the beginning, the author of Japanese descent perceived the Czech language as very difficult, even
inaccessible. She managed to get acquainted with the language only after getting to know the diminutives. These peculiar words, which contain a kind of mercy are also a sign of proximity between the subjects of communication, became a source of fascination for the artist. Minami Nishinaga became a collector of these phrases, the inventor of her imaginary vocabulary, looking for and assigning local equivalents to the diminutives of her native language. These diminutives
are the bearers of proximity but especially their cuteness - and it winds throughout the artist's work, which is also manifested at the exhibition in the Fait Gallery.
I’ll give brownie points to something like Čert 180 g, Loupák pes 60 g, or perhaps Bez omáčky visualises personal stories of eight anthropomorphic objects from different materials. These subtle narrative pieces capture a tiny murmur between objects and subjects. At first sight, these dialogues are not clear however, thanks to the author’s sensitivity and imagination they speak to us and are waiting for empathy, recognition and attention. It is subtle in personifications of zoomorphic works or objects, which are addressed with humanity and care. Other works are related to the artist herself, her "ritual" or situations, full of intimacy and are reflecting the search for support. Throughout these subtle poetic objects, Minami Nishinaga encourages sensitivity, receptive understanding and appreciation of not only your surroundings but also to you personally.