24.05.2023 - 29.07.2023
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curator: Pavlína Morganová
Opening: 24th May, 7 pm
We have worked since 2019 under the unconductive trash label, which is an anagram of our home towns - Duchcov (Michal Pěchouček) and Traunstein (Rudi Koval). This fatalism-tinged pun metaphorically expresses the internal aspects of the joint working method. Trash accumulates during every creative process and production. Trash is an important and familiar concept from the landscape of cultural values. The The retardation property of the unconductive rules out the regulation of trash and the control of the direction of creative energy. The brand is therefore our distilled manifesto - in art, we do not consider it important to finish things. What matters is the beginning of creative activity, not its completed result. The purpose of our collaboration is to remove the layers of the past and discover a new artistic identity.
The starting point of our artistic interaction is the easel painting - it proved to be a suitable and accessible means in a joint search for a new linguistic and content identity. At the core of our collaboration is the desire to shed the layers of our own past, i.e. to learn to forget our original artistic handwritings. We explore a new painterly handwriting through different materials and methods, including the space and time dimensions of art. In a pair, it is possible to discover new subjects for artistic retelling and new ordinariness. We experiment with artistic means while trying to "moderate" the intensity and interconnectedness of joint everyday activities. We include in art not only common knowledge but also ordinary experiences, situations that can be planned and experienced together. We focus on one-day and long-term challenges. We try to employ this experience of subtle everyday reality in robust wholes such as exhibitions.
The title of the current exhibition LARGELY OBSERVED is inspired by one of the terms of the European macroseismic earthquake scale. It identifies a degree of critical condition that is widely observed, but need not be taken fatally - for us it is a possible expression of the quality of the viewer's experience, the power of the inner experience of an artwork. The exhibition opens with our first collaborative works, burning daylight (2020), and continues with unconductive chronology (2023), a series of forty-eight paintings sewn together. At the centre are two extensive cycles of paintings, gold tint (2022) and virgin blue (2023), inspired by research into visual evidence of suppressed stories of the past. We have conceived the exhibition as a dialogue between two worlds: past and present, big and small. Through monochromatic work with colour and figurative detail, we attempt to tell real stories of the 20th century that resonate with our everyday lives today.
virgin blue (2023)
This installation of paintings and a monumental work close to architecture, design and large-scale relief painting is inspired by period photographs of one of England's first women football teams, Dick, Kerr Ladies F.C., which was formed during the First World War. Despite achieving considerable popularity and sporting success, the team faced strong opposition from the Football Association which banned women from playing on their pitches and stadiums for fifty years. The reason for the ban was to "protect" women who, according to the association, were not physically capable of playing football. The series of paintings thus refers not only to the pitfalls of women's emancipation but also to the period of the world wars, marked by many structural social changes.
burning daylight (2020)
The first works of unconductive trash were created as an experiment - the artists jointly modified paintings created by Rudi Koval in 2017. The burning daylight series thus captures the moment of the encounter of two artistic personalities and their incompatible handwritings. A dialogue between abstraction and figuration, the painterly approached surface and the drawing of a sewing machine, the removal of a canvas and its stretching onto a different format, the elimination of what already existed as well as the clarification of work with paint were all part of a search for new procedures and subjects.
unconductive chronology (2023)
The continuous series of forty-eight paintings is conceived as a monumental element in space and as a sequence of film frames for a motion picture. The individual canvases show an intervention that shrinks their surface through repeated stitching, thus creating volume. The fabric creases irreversibly even after stretching on a wooden frame. Unconductive trash works on two sewing machines simultaneously, with minimum checking of the result and according to specified conditions that are repeated. In doing so, they capture a personal unity in something that is both work and idleness, that is both festive and ordinary.
unconductive loop (2023)
The subject of this interactive installation is the mechanics of the sewing machine, its magical sound and its unsurpassed contribution to human civilization. It is the stepping mechanism of the machine that made the movement of the film strip in the camera possible. The driving force behind this work is the observing audience - without their presence the work wouldn’t exist.
gold tint (2022)
The gold tint cycle of paintings is loosely inspired by documentary photographs of everyday life of soldiers during the Second World War. For example, a series of reportage photographs taken in 1940 by John Topham while working in the RAF intelligence shows a home guard unit in Gravesend, England rehearsing an entertaining Christmas show - the soldiers performed in female roles and clothes. The rehearsal was interrupted by an alarm and everyone had to move to a defensive position, there was no time to unmask and change into uniforms. The whole story, including the rehearsal, is documented in several telling snapshots. They capture the desire of the British soldiers to forget the reality of war for a while, to have fun and to make present the missing female element - to let the yearning for it sublimate. The images were censored for a long time by the British Ministry of Information to prevent them from being exploited by the enemy as they placed the soldier-hero in a completely new situation.
Gender parody and cross-dressing common in the theatre are not unique in the military, either as evidenced, for example, in the book Soldier Studies (Martin Dammann, ed., Soldier Studies. Cross-Dressing in der Wehrmacht, Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2019), with amateur photographs showing scenes featuring German soldiers dressed up as women - scenes that were in direct contradiction to Nazi ideology.
The scenes in the pictures captured through specific gestures and situations symbolically touch upon many aspects of today's discussion on gender stereotypes, human desires and various forms of identities. The artists want to emphasise, among other things, that men are capable of absolute empathy and that femininity is inherent to them. The search for normality and everyday ordinariness is natural for human beings, even in the chaos of war.
macroseismic scale, 2022
A figurative transcription of the European macroseismic scale which, unlike the older Richter scale, takes into account the intensity of human perception depending on physical changes. For example, the degree of largely observed defines the critical condition that is largely observed inside buildings. At this level, no one can pretend not to notice anything. Earthquakes inside buildings are felt by many, but only rarely outside.
you have no power over me, 2023
The textual intervention in the gallery window involves the line used to break the curse at the end of the fantasy film Labyrinth (directed by Jim Henson, 1986). Here, it is intended as a possible analogy to the figures of soldiers, or rather, to their experience of chaos and their desire to get out of it.
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.