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: Jiří Ptáček
Opening: 23. 2. 2022, 7 pm
In his native Slovakia, Martin Vongrej's creative strategies are perceived as a distinctive continuation of the local characteristics of conceptual art of the second half of the 20th century. Vongrej's ability to draw on a meticulously thought-out programme that ascends from the human subject to cosmic heights (and from there – pulled by gravity, enriched and expanded - descends again to the human ;evel) places his work alongside the most remarkable artistic concepts his predecessors have left us. In his conception, a work of art is inserted between the human senses and the surrounding world, visualizing the present (physical and spiritual) principles while stimulating their direct experiencing.
The core of the exhibition in the Fait Gallery is formed by Vongrej's new paintings. They are among the most subtle the artist has created, and obviously invite aesthetic contemplation. In the paintings, coloured points are placed between parallel and intersecting lines making up constellations in which the points are either separated or grouped together. We also see points of the same colour shade in sets and rows wedged into each other. Elements of asymmetry are masterfully woven into the symmetries of geometrical compositions. In the intentions of Vongrej's artistic work, the perception of all relationships is intrinsically linked to the processes of unconscious decision-making and our ability to comprehend them, including the paradoxes inherent in them. Is it possible, for example, to "see" symmetry and asymmetry at the same time? Is it possible to perceive points as separate and connected at the same time? Under these circumstances, a kind of "quantization game" takes place between seeing and thinking, in which one cannot actually perceive both, but only arrive at one qualitatively different result at any given moment, while being aware of both.
In connection with light, the theme of "qualitative difference" also features in the title of the exhibition. Martin Vongrej has previously worked with the paradox of a rotating mirror whose movement is not reflected on its surface, and we are thus unable to observe it. The illusion created is naturally not an empty optical charade but a meaning-inducing component accompanying the relations between the seen and thought, the realised. The moment we know that something is moving underneath an image yet the image is not responding to it properly, we can experience a certain doubling of the meaning of the observed phenomenon. This is also the case with the circular lights that the artist has placed in his new exhibition. In these, too, photons disregard the movement or immobility of the source, so we are unable to notice any qualitative difference sensorically. But since we are able to be aware of it, we must relate the term "qualitative" to the unit of the seeing and thinking recipient.
Unlike mirrors, however, Vongrej's circular lights contribute to the illumination of the surrounding space and objects in it. As light sources, they are a condition of vision, but their position in space, or the range, intensity and inclination of their rays, co-determine what we see and how we see it.
It might follow from the above how important a role participating (!) observers play in these systems. Vongrej's exhibitions operate with a kind of active situatedness. They emphasize that we are surrounded and drawn into newly created relations as perceiving, thinking and acting "points" in space and time. However, they extend from the factual experience we gain at a specific venue of the exhibition to the extra-artistic and extra-gallery reality, the “out there”. Each of Vongrej's exhibitions thus takes on a model-like quality which contains the laws that track our experience in imaginarily separate spheres of interpersonal sharing, earthly nature closest to our physical existence and its (only more distant from man) cosmic extension.
Text: Jiří Ptáček
Supported using public funding by Slovak Arts Council.