25.10.2023 - 13.01.2024
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curator: Denisa Kujelová
Opening: 25th October, 7 pm
The early work of Jiří Hilmar (*1937) was marked by the art trends of the time, especially the principles of Concretism (whose club he co-founded in Czechoslovakia in 1967), as well as by the activation of the viewer, the processuality of perception and the thematization of movement. Kinetic objects in the form of mechanical machines and objects working with light sources and shadow effects were followed by several years of the artist's thorough investigation of the phenomenon of mobile procedural perception in paper reliefs folded into optical structures. These mostly square formats of various sizes produced an optical illusion through the movement of the observer and the change of his or her position in relation to the work, thus transforming the visual qualities of the surface.
In the square, whose shape the artist saw as an ideal anonymous form referring to the ideas of Piet Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich or Victor Vasarely, he created structures in various systems according to mathematical principles and seriality from horizontally, vertically and diagonally arranged monochrome or multicolour strips of folded and, in many cases, also incised paper. The opto-kinetic principle was achieved by varying the height of the strips, their shape, the method and degree of their bending, the method of perforation, and also the shape and colour of the tempera used for individual fragments (most often circles and their sections). The variation of contrasts and intersections continued after his emigration to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1969, where he settled for more than 40 years.
The active involvement of the viewer was also part of the next cycle of works which were defined by a system of overlapping vertical strips or strings. In this new structural plan, in which one of the elements was always firmly attached to the base and the other hung freely above it, the works could again be set in motion, now literally, by the participation of the observer. Parallel to this, in the 1970s the artist created monochromes from layered tracing paper, fixed to canvas or wooden boards, most often also in square formats. The individual layers of transparent paper were only recognizable by their deliberate distortion with various types of creasing, perforation, rippling and gradations or variations of the repetitive regular patterns of the collaged fragments.
After moving to the Halfmannshof art colony in Gelsenkirchen in 1974, located in the heavily devastated landscape of the Ruhr area, Hilmar naturally moved towards environmental issues. In addition to paper, he began to incorporate into his reliefs natural materials such as jute, wax, kaolin and also wood, in the form of sticks and matchsticks. In the 1980s, when nature became an equal co-agent in his work, and creative intervention in natural processes started to prevail in his work, he turned permanently to a single material - wood. He partially dismantled the original autonomous shapes of branches and trunks and then reconstructed them by rejoining, tying or crossing them into new units of wooden objects and installations. He deliberately interfered in the originally round found fragments of trees in an invasive and openly completely contradictory square manner followed by a final gesture of re-rounding, in order to manifest the oneness of man and nature, which he sought in his work and life.
HILMAR, Jiří, VÍCHOVÁ, Ilona, HIEKISCH-PICARD, Sepp. Jiří Hilmar/ Adagio. Praha, Museum Kampa – Nadace Jana a Medy Mládkových, 2015.
POHRIBNÝ, Arsen. Klub konkrétistů po dvaceti letech. In: Revue K, 1988–89, nos. 32–33.
“Optické reliéfy“ Jiřího Hilmara, Rozhlas, ČRo 3 – Vltava, Mozaika, 24 February 2011.
 The principles of Concretism were defined in interwar art by Theo van Doesburg, who first used and coined the term in 1930, and later in the 1930s by Max Bill, the main promoter of this art movement. De Stijl, the Bauhaus, and also the Russian avant-garde were followed in the 1950s by the activities of the Swiss neo-concretists led by Richard Paul Lohse, and partly by kinetic art in the Düsseldorf Zero movement, the GRAV group in Paris, the Gruppo N in Padua and the Gruppo T in Milan.
 Together with Tomáš Rajlich, Radoslav Kratina, Miroslav Vystrčil and the art theorist Arsén Pohribný he co-founded the KK/CC - The Concretists’ Club (9 May 1967 - ca. 1972), whose activities were followed by the new KK2 in 1997 and KK3 in 2007.
 In this context it is also worth mentioning hydro-kinetic objects from 1974.
 “Optické reliéfy“ Jiřího Hilmara, Rozhlas, ČRo 3 – Vltava, Mozaika, 24 February 2011.
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curator: Pavel Kubesa
Special opening day: October 8, 4 pm–9 pm
The Event of Painting
The RAFA MATA exhibition project is, after some time, the first solo show of Tomáš Absolon in the Czech Republic. The artist develops in it his internal motivation to go back to the issues of pure painting. He chooses as his means of expression the most elementary components of the paining arsenal, colour and shape, and at the same time reduces the possibilities of the exhibition and installation aesthetics to bare minimum. Such artistic strategy places in the centre of attention the format of a picture per se, and presents Absolon’s found forms of contemporary painting in condensed form.
Work with his own, continuously built corpus of inspiration has always been important for Tomáš Absolon. His extensive database of subjects, symbols and influences stemming from broad cultural consciousness framed by experience of the global world of web 2.0 enables Absolon in his visual reductions to go beyond the conservative approach to the picture towards “postmodern mythologies“: the picture is only linked with external phenomena existentially, i.e. ontologically, not in reflected form (i.e. semantically). The pictorial visuality is thus not iconically (not even “arbitrarily“) associated with inspirational contents: the reference function of the pictorial symbol is completely suppressed and the “theme aspect“ of the series is created by a defining aesthetic and formal environment in which Absolon explores the possibilities of the development of new picture motifs.
The aesthetic environment, i.e. the sum of aesthetic features and qualities, traditional symbols, myths and representations making up the backdrop of the RAFA MATA project, is a hybrid territory stretching between top-level sport and corporate ideology: Absolon’s topical pictures are rooted in specific internal aesthetics of top-level tennis and sophisticated visual systems of the tobacco industry. These two worlds seem miles apart but share visual attractiveness, as well as distinct pictorial representations and an equally powerful emotional charge of the overall image of these two “incredibly sexy lifestyles“. However, Absolon wipes off the borders between these two inspirational stimuli, only extracting from them their typical colour composition and essential shapes.
The RAFA MATA series marks a shift from the previous ones in which Abssolon embraced formal trends from other avenues of art such as graphic design and typography, and subordinated the individual pictures to a pre-defined summarizing concept. He now focuses on the painterly solution to a particular picture. In each painting he attempts, by means of a unique visual motif, to develop the purely painterly inner logic of a picture which only unfolds in the very event of painting. The colour scheme approached more through space mediated by both gradual and sharp colour transitions, and loosely rendered shape lines return to the play of Absolon’s pictures re-found objectivity of motifs; at the same time, they open the possibility of the theme of a painting error: the space of the error is also the space of the happening of painting which visualizes and unveils this inner logic.
Absolon’s latest pictures require an interest in detail. They make a picture present in time and physical space, they remove it from interpretation and reception strategies of the consumption of visual representations in the environment of digital platforms and place it in a physical relationship with the viewer. The event of painting thus becomes (in a more and more dematerializing manner of experiencing everyday life) a directly accessible event of experiencing painting; this gives rise to an inherent continuity between the inner self and the surrounding world, a continuity which is not mediated and which can’t be mediated, a continuity which is undergoing a major crisis in the current situation of a global pandemic.
A virtual tour of Tomáš Absolon's exhibition - RAFA MATA can be found here.