23.02.2022 - 14.05.2022
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Exhibition design, artistic collaboration: David Fesl
Graphic design of the book and pendants: Daniela & Linda Dostálková, Sonni Scheuringer
Text: Marek Pokorný
Opening: 23. 2. 2022, 7 pm
I’ll do something somehow
The most remarkable, for some perhaps somewhat old-fashioned but at the same time unusually topical aspect of Lenka Vítková's work is its emblematic nature. However, not in the art-history sense of the word when an image is directly linked with a text in a single sign unit which contains a gnomic title, allegorical representation and an epigram revealing the meaning of the enigmatic title and the even more enigmatic representation. In her case, the emblem is more appropriately understood as a metaphor for a variety of rather personal tactics and artistic strategies in uncovering meaning by obscuring it, and a multifaceted manifestation of the unity of poetry and image.
It is therefore not a literary extension of a work of art, or, conversely, of the imagery of texts but, first and foremost, a condensation of lived experience that allows the artist to perform meaning through a multi-directional exchange between the seen, the thought and the written, an exchange conducted through words, a spatial intervention, sound or moving image, a painterly gesture or the selection and processing of a specific material - in recent years, for example, plaster, which is not just the basis for painting etudes but also comes into play as a visually and haptically active thing-sign. The title of Lenka Vítková's current exhibition and the accompanying publication, First Book of Emblems, is therefore an explicit acknowledgement of the principle of her creative practice, as well as the artist’s suggestion of how the viewer (and the reader) could approach them.
Waving, circling, approaching and receding, leaning, walking, falling. Transformation. A meaning created by the movement of words and the action of the painted surface, by an image related to a sentence. A meaning emerging from the image following a sentence, from a sound or film sequence as a transposition of a word or image. Lenka Vítková's approach to her work is typified by a special kind of civility and ability to speak for herself in relation to the emerging whole of the world through subjects whose prospective banality is cancelled not only by the mentioned emblematic nature but in recent years predominantly by working on the painting, painting as a still-effective way of showing what I mean. Clues which are obviously distilled starting points include not only signs, abstract patterns and abstracted realities or objects and configurations of the seen - glimpsed, but also objects, body fragments and figures. Yet it is always about the whole. Indeed, the subtle objectivity of the subject with which Lenka Vítková is currently working is accompanied at every step by her ability to share much broader contexts, more like a condition than an explanation of the present ones, which make the choice even more significant. Or, last but not least, there is that unsentimental way in which the artist, through painterly means, lays out and activates the surface in order to keep in play the affective qualities of the creative process and their sources.
If Lenka Vítková's works and exhibitions sometimes make the sympathetic viewer feel slightly dizzy, it is due to the continuous stream of exchange between seeing and intellectual work. Her art (she is an exceptional colourist among painters of her generation and beyond) amplifies and intensifies the feeling of the viewer's physical presence in front of the painting or in its space, while at the same time giving meaning to the actual experience that the recipient is undergoing in a difficult-to-convey state of consciousness. One aspect of this type of artistic experience (emphasized by the tradition of modernism) is the result of long-standing exercises through which we still, albeit rarely, and then with a certain suspicion that we are definitely missing something, master the dialectical relationship in which the self and the universe, immediacy and mediation, subjectivity and impersonality, or tradition and its unique fulfilment, can be found. Although we can speculate about what the postmodern emancipation of the sign universe has made possible for the artist and which line of modernist subjective universalism she may be following, the artist herself has described her art practice most accurately: “I’m coming,/ don't know what I’m bringing./ I’ll start somewhere,/ I’ll do something somehow./ Some things the material will do on its own. The gestures I own.”
Text: Marek Pokorný
The project was financially supported by the City of Brno and Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.
Fait Gallery PREVIEW, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curator: Michal Stolárik
Opening day: May 12 2021, 5 pm–9 pm
A compositionally and dynamically balanced exhibition environment, formal purity of artefacts, obsessively precise rendering of the individual segments or a naturally developing vocabulary of art symbolism. The latest exhibition projects (Children of Ján Moksó, 2020, New Synagogue; Monument of Possible Fall, 2019, At Home Gallery) of the Slovak multimedia artist Kristián Németh (*1983) define from a perspective view his current artistic handwriting and probably also set imaginary standards of his future work. It is characterised by a natural combination of general subjects and intimate, almost traumatic contents, while the artist does not shun institutional criticism masked by a symbolic artistic language inspired by and derived from everyday reality.
Németh in his post-conceptual approach to the creation of objects, installations, performances, video art and staged photographs continuously touches upon subjects rooted in the functioning of the Catholic church. In some cases he examines, in an almost investigative manner, personal and family traumas, sexuality and sexual abuse, the dichotomy of power, the distorted values and intentions of the protagonists of the church, while at the same time questioning the general idea of the (false) positivity and transparency of the perception of a religious society. Although the institutional criticism of the church makes up a greater part of the artist’s research, he gradually updates it with a more universal content line which is related to more general subjects responding to the state of society.
The unplanned change of the dates of the solo exhibition Warm Greetings caused by the pandemic situation gave the artist an opportunity to review the original project and thus to come up with something new, as well as to reflect on the current political and social situation. At a glance, this site-specific project is based on Németh’s previous work and an imaginary library of the artist’s approaches from which he has selected significant light colours, an airy installation, material and formal variety, minimalist stylization and a stage design approach to the building of the exhibition experience.
The central motif placed at the core of the exhibition environment involves wax objects bent by the effect of warmth and force. Candles deformed by an art technique which Németh originally took from the context of the Eucharist represented in his past projects the vulnerability and the unconscious adjustment of individuals to the canons of the church power. In the current update, their numbers are multiplied, resulting in accumulations of organic wholes that appear homogenous yet, on closer inspection, reveal their unique heterogeneous character. Through the accumulation of destroyed candles Németh illustrates the influences of a superior power, unshakeable external stimuli, social norms, pressures and expectations affecting an individual or a group in the present world. Through the form of an invisible physical gesture and an imaginary “warm greeting“ the artist creates symbolic relics and comments on the process of their birth in the form of stylized images communicating the poetics of a simple gesture between creativity and destruction.
The subtle yet unmistakeable colour scheme of the exhibition project which, apart from the fact that it helps dynamize the space and accentuates the meaning of the individual segments, also reflects the symbolism of the colours used. White is connected with purity, innocence, truth ad justice, while the shade of incarnate pink is related to the feminine, corporeality and homosexuality. Apart from fabrics employed in a stage-design fashion we can observe the selected colour scheme on specially designed abstracted wooden pedestals illustrating stylized traces of the melted candles. Together with stigmatically rendered burnt spots, they indicate the invisible yet clearly present elements of warmth and fire, constituting an important ideological background of the whole project.
Supported using public funding by Slovak Arts Council.