26.02.2020 - 25.07.2020
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Opening: 26. 2. 2020 at 7pm
Curator: Miroslav Ambroz
In my past lives, I was a hunter and a gatherer. I would always start my everyday routine
with decorating tools, weapons and creating musical instruments for myself.
1) Even though you were considered as the creator of spatial objects, in this exhibition your major emphasis is on paintings. What was the impulse?
The new atelier, where for the first time in my life, is light, space and warmth, this helped me to finally start painting. An eternity of horizons was open in front of me, together with two big travels to Columbia and Australia, I understand this happy season as staying on an abandoned island, therefore the name "Two years’ vacation".
2) In 2004 you painted large format canvases "Roads of swifts" and "Mother Earth". In the sametime frame you also painted "Chaple of Karlin", and even before that, "Envelopes" were created, therefore in your own way you are continuing with something that was created long before?
Of course, I was already painting in the '70s during my studies. Back then I inherited very rare pigments from prof. Slánský, which I am using presently. The first time I used them was during my exhibition in Rudolfinum, when there was a need to paint something great for "Silent Hall" and a figure of the central deity arose, which is appearing in my works in different varieties. Connection with the material was always important for me. The type of work on the ground on the non-gesso canvas, together with water diluted pigments and acrylate bonds demanded this physical contact. Even in some places on the paintings, there are my footprints.
A wall painting "Chaple of Karlin" was in somewhat a cleansing exhibition after the floods in 2002, and according to an agreement I had to turn it white. The oldest envelopes date back to 1986. The style of their decoration is connected with the style of "Third rococo" and that epoch is accumulated in my works. In the '90s I created multiple large format envelopes, which I perceived as the object/pictures having multiple-meanings and it opened an inexhaustible line packed into certain cushions, similar to guitars. This is related to my favourite non-standard formats (ovals) and adjusting large canvasses "free" without the stretcher bar.
3) What was most interesting thing about Australia?
First of all never ending space and starry skies. Five weeks, every evening by the fire in the desert. Furthermore, colours and rock paintings as old as 60 000 years. This was the first time I have seen baobabs and eucalypti that were 800 years old, which existed way before the arrival of whites... breathtaking scenery. I brought back a lot of collected materials and natural clay, with which I am painting. Australians have a "story" for each god, they are mostly cautionary stories, which have helped to keep the tribes viable. It appears to me as there are various imaginary divinities, however, they were born from the transcultural backdrop. Something interesting is that the rock paintings and figures on it are very similar all around the world, but I am not the type who would study these things in much detail. On the other hand, I deliberately keep certain blindness, to be astonished, and I would recommend this to consumers. Those who ask too much will learn too much.
4) Some rusty images look a bit apocalyptic, did it have any specific impulse?
"Rusty images" are painted by some rusty mud from a forested swamp in West Czech. In fact, they are ferric nano-shells of microorganisms. I discovered this beautiful colour in the '70s, which came back to me now, to extract it artistically. Thematically, they partly follow the cycle of thermo-drawings "Landscapes from Timelessness" or the cycle of graphics "Giants", where the power of nature is personified into supernatural beings. People desire to witness a miracle or other paranormal acts, and we have this advantage that we can also paint them. Also, people are drawn to the aesthetic of natural disasters and the theatre of extinction. Towards the end however, the road took me elsewhere.
5) When you were in Columbia, did you try yagé -the most renowned shamanic hallucinogen?
I don’t need to check what I suspect. I don't need to meet God. I don't want to upset him. He
could stop passing me.
The interview led Miroslav Ambroz
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.