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: Ondřej Chrobák
Opening: February 22, 2023
In the local context, viewers are not used to the possibility of retrospectively looking back at the work of an artist "in the middle" of his career. In the (Western) art world, however, the literal term "midcareer retrospective" is used for this type of exhibition projects. An essential prerequisite for the appeal and success of such an undertaking is that the artist has a high-quality and large body of work from which to build a retrospective. Tomáš Hlavina is almost a model example for a retrospective in the imaginary middle of his artistic career. His consistent work spans three decades and has regularly attracted attention. Its beginnings were accelerated by the artist’s studies, environment and fellow students in Milan Knížák’s Intermedia School at the Prague Academy where Tomáš Hlavina enrolled immediately after its establishment in 1990. Since the mid-1990s, his objects and installations have formed an integral part of most of his generation's defining shows, curated by the duo of Karel Srp and Olga Malá and by the husband and wife tandem of Jana and Jiří Ševčík. At the turn of the millennium, Tomáš Hlavina was nominated three times for the final selection of the Jindřich Chalupecký Prize. His works gradually made its way to both large institutional collections and major private ones. Furthermore, the artist has headed the sculpture studio at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague for many years. All this makes an important prerequisite for the current exhibition recapitulation; at the same time, it opens up a space for new discoveries or a revision of the interpretive frameworks of Hlavina's oeuvre.
Tomáš Hlavina’s TLNVXYK Puzzle is conceived as an exhibition of a single "meta" work to which the constellations of art objects arranged on the elementary plan of a board game are subordinated. The individual works are removed from their natural artistic context, chronology and theme connections. The codified rules of the game on the basis of which the objects have been moved and grouped are not part of Hlavina's plan. Instead, the viewer is invited to closely observe the situation and then enter the "game plan". This might give rise to brand new sensory interactions with the artefacts going beyond the artist’s original intention. Rather than the traditional principles of art theory and history, it seems more appropriate to apply to this experience mathematical models derived from game theory or, conversely, methodological approaches from archaeology and anthropology. One discovery can perhaps be generalized, that on the large-scale installation of the retrospective, an analogical situation is taking place, one which we have become accustomed to experience on a small scale when confronted with Hlavina's objects and installations. These are similar puzzles. Tomáš Hlavina very often employs in them objects and situations of everyday use, which he finely works, arranges and combines with each other or with similarly artistically transformed natural objects. At first glance, they resemble kinetic objects or variable structures, yet movement and rearrangement is only their seeming potential. Tomáš Hlavina draws direct inspiration for many of his objects from the study of ancient cultures, religions and philosophy, but their resulting material reality and poetic metaphoricity is stripped of almost all illustrative dependence. A special chapter involves the artist’s sense of humour which remains hidden under the surface but is a good insurance against falling into the clutches of academism. This is probably where Tomáš Hlavina's need not to omit the title from the process of finalizing the artwork but rather to rely on its evocative effect stems from. This is also the case of the title of the current exhibition, TLNVXYK Puzzle, which might sound like an instructional description, a reference to mythological archetypes or an unsuccessful anagram of the artist's surname. Last but not least, the Puzzle is an invitation into the artist's head.
Project was created with financial support of Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and Statutory city of Brno.