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, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curator: Denisa Kujelová
Special opening day: October 8, 4 pm–9 pm
The conceptual approach first came to the fore in the work of Karel Adamus in 1974, in an extensive cycle entitled Minimal Metaphors exploring the relations between verbal or visual elements and their subsequent reassessed meaning in the title. The artist developed this distinctive type of conceptual poetry from 1976 onwards in the Copies series in which he, apart from a play with the terms “original” and “copy,” also articulated or modified the meaning of the original work by means of watercolour and drawing.
The theme of Minimal Metaphors created on the common A4 format is the relationship between a typewritten title and a subject of a poem, expressed with the use of a typewriter and a minimalist drawing, an assemblage or the colour and material properties of paper. Verbal metaphors are the most plentifully represented in this impressive cycle; their material is words where the semantic nature is born by both the signifier and the signified. The relationship between these two components produces a metaphor, i.e. a relationship on the basis of an analogy which the artist presents to the recipient on whose active collaboration strong emphasis is laid in the final execution of the work. The majority of these verbal metaphors go back to the aesthetics of typewritten letters that the artist used in his previous prolific phase of visual poetry, and are thus exclusively executed in typewritten form. However, there are also several poems working with a handwritten text, the stamping technique close to stamp art, poems-drawings and drawings working with “zero experience” in a maximum reduction of the elements employed.
In the following Copies series closely linked with Minimal Metaphors, and sometimes even formally attached to it, the relationship between the title and the subject of a poem, between the signifying component and the signified component, be it a text or a picture, a key element of this part of Adamus’s oeuvre, is accentuated even more. However, to get a full picture, it is also necessary to study other aspects of the work. While the Minimal Metaphors series is limited, with a few exceptions, to the ordinary A4 format, with Copies the format was enlarged in an equal proportion in order to demonstrate the size of the originals.
Subject Poems and Poems – Objects are also based on preset and consciously created associative links, inducing in the viewer a transfer of meaning expected by the artist. The meaning is often anchored in the title which makes up an integral part of the work and leads the observer in a direction set by the artist. In view of this, the frequently voiced connection with ready made art appears incorrect.
Adamus’s art characterised by concentrated communication with minimalized visual expression and work with actually non-artistic means is in this case not a purely intellectual construct on a rational base; nonetheless, its main subject is lyrical stimuli rooted in his inherently poetic nature. This is also illustrated by the fact that Adamus consistently refers to his works including objects as poems. Karel Adamus as a visual poetry artist was introduced to the general public in the early 1970s by the art theorist and artist Jiří Valoch on whose essays this text is based. Valoch also included Adamus in the so-called Brno Circle, along with other artists working on the periphery of the art scene. The main feature shared by these artists was the conceptualization of art, the accent on visual and experimental poetry and the processuality of their work.
The process character of drawing started to manifest itself in Adamus’s art in 1980 in the Flosages cycle. Although chronologically they rank with Minimal Metaphors and to a large extent are also metaphorical, these works can’t be classified with Minimal Metaphors due to their completely different structure and point of departure. The Flosages series consists of sequences of mostly connected lines which are of different thickness but are always in monochrome black pencil of different hardness, or an ink felt-tip pen. They always culminate in one line in colour, and there exist different time intervals between the drawings of the individual black lines (weeks, months but also years). The closing of the growth process with a colour line which gave the cycle its name symbolizes flower (flos in Latin). Despite the fact that Flosages have different shapes, they typically show a repeatedly connected line the phases of which take place in different time periods, and many of them are frozen in the process of growth, awaiting the next phase or the final stage - flower.
A virtual tour of Karel Adamus's exhibition - Minimal Metaphors can be found here.