23.05.2018 - 04.08.2018
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
opening: 23. 5. 2018 at 7 pm
A grid becomes a symbol of organisation in the most general sense of the word, a kind of order of things, and at a symbolic level also a world order.
- Jan Nálevka
The A4 format paper is the most widespread kind of paper in both households and offices. We use it to print ordinary documents, for photocopying, notes and sketches. It is also used for the printing of formal court decisions, meals of the day in cheap restaurants and university theses, as it is the only format with which one can be sure that the diploma work will be bound in covers imitating leather as late as an hour before the deadline. Files for this size are available from any stationery shop, and millions of sheets pile up in millions of metres of office archives. Text editors now offer the digital version of A4… The standardized A4 format is guaranteed by the ISO 216 international standard for paper of the A, B and C categories. The first attempts at standardisation go back to France during the Revolution in the late 18th century. The main advantage of this proportion of sides is the simple division in halves after which the sheets retain the same proportion of sides. The major benefit of the adoption and dissemination of the standard was its compatibility and coordination of the manufacture of a whole spectrum of products. Nowadays, when you ask someone to picture a “common sheet of paper”, they will most probably visualize paper of the A4 format.
When lining A4 sheets, Jan Nálevka adjusts the drawing to the standard. He opts for a neutral handwriting, and steps back as an artist. He uses blue ballpoint pens in order to emphasise office work where the compliance with prescribed administration procedures is essential. Reams of paper covered in lines and square grids are virtually indiscernible from mass-produced prints. And since Nálevka further segments the paper with lines and square grids, while in fact still preparing it for writing and drawing, he can talk about the creation of “standardised blankness”, a blankness achieved through work. Its volume, as well as the time it requires, are not proportionate to the result. However, in their reflection there is always space to realise the absurd nature of this activity. Nálevka’s drawings can thus be considered implicitly critical, yet at a more general level they are abstract visualizations of an order introduced into art, or into a work activity as such. And in its ultimate form, the segmented A4 paper format is a symbolic representative of standards predestining our factual possibilities, shaping our perception and behaviour, and providing a basis for our imagination in the private and social dimension of life.
The And now, finally, let’s finally turn the page exhibition can be understood as a public audit due to which the material that in the previous decade had progressively emerged at preliminary, autonomous and semi-autonomous presentations was gathered in a single place. And although the show exclusively presents drawings from the years 2009—2018, it captures Nálevka’s thinking concerning the external conditions of the organisation of human life. It is divided into three basic sections. The first one observes the subjects of the basic organisation plan and “standardised blankness” as the consequences of the adopted art-work load. In the second section, the issue of the time invested in the drawings, and lost, comes to the fore. Finally, in the last section Nálevka abandons the point of view of an individual and with plans drawn over reproductions of books on modernist art comments on the historical and possible future social orders.
Being next to the the works of Jan Šerých, however, is that rare moment when there are more than any other time revealed other implicit aspects of her work. This time it, undoubtedly, highlights the formal aspects Kotzmannová’s way of photographing. Central symmetry of her still lifes and yellow striped frame are reflected in Šerých‘s strict drawing structures and the photo installation Tornádo /Tornado inspired by a found picture of a woman posing for the photographer far enough (?!) from the trunk of a whirlwind. Šerých used two captured axes – the first one is a woman standing in the ideal center of the frame and the other one is a twisted column of dust spinning around its eye. By spinning the photo printing around the vertical axis Šerých emphasised this principle and in accordance with the tone of the installation of his drawings it seems he is claiming that the adjustment is more important than the depiction (despite that it is the adjustment he uses to relate to the exhibited works).
And this fact brings us back to the photographs of Alena Kotzmannová. Not only that yellow stripes along the edges of the photographs change the perceptual quality of the pictures, they also - as well as adjustments - are actually a commentary on what is captured in the pictures: objects are variously "adjusted" and shown this way to the viewer (and the lens of the photographer).
The Chiliagon by Alena Kotzmannová and Jan Šerých could be compared to the two punch cards laid over each other. At first glance, there is an obvious formal kinship, that actually brings the theme of "proximity" (ad-juxtare), including the contrasting opposite at long tables covered with Jana Šerých drawings, that actually "recede" from the viewer, because he/she can actually not properly inspect them, could then be considered as the adjacent holes in punch cards. However these aspects should not cover the last metaphorical evocation, I have noticed in the combination of their work. In a Chiliagon Šerých as well as Kotzmannová create an environment referring solely to artistic problems. But the impression of selected pictures evokes a strong affective as well as associative response, and also the kind of laboratory atmosphere of the exhibition, create together a generally understandable key also for the audience prefering emotions and ideas. And this brings us – althought from a different side - very close to the storytelling, where we actually started.