01.06.2022 - 30.07.2022
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curators: Denisa Kujelová and Jiří Ptáček
Opening: 1. 6. 2022, 7 pm
In the exhibition project of the versatile visual artist Petr Nikl, his creative approaches intertwine in a vast imaginative garden - a kind of ecosystem of moving and seemingly static organisms cultivated by the artist, but at the same time partially self-grown, much to his delight.
Petr Nikl is one of the few Czech artists who need little introduction to the cultural public. Almost everyone will remember some of his exhibitions, a painting, drawing or print, an exhibition project he initiated, a music recording, a concert, a theatre play or a performance or, for example, a book for adults and children he wrote and illustrated. However, it is not this multi-faceted and decades-long presence of Petr Nikl in our cultural space that makes him an unmistakeable and a rather unique figure. Indeed, this presence would not be worth talking about and would be just mindless hyperactivity were it not characterized by the imaginative poetics with which the artist draws us into a fascinating space of fantasy and play.
If we were to sum up what Nikl communicates to his viewers and listeners, it would probably be a non-violently subversive impact on the consensus of dignified and pragmatic adulthood which creates a wall of restrictions and a hard-to-fulfil desire to break it, and Nikl's ability to indicate, through the outcomes of his work, a path towards the fuller experiencing of the multi-layered and mysterious nature of existence that spreads underneath the veneer of the mundane and the superficial absorption of reality.
Nikl co-founded his puppet theatre company Mehedaha as early as 1985. At that time, he was a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague where intermedia fusions or performative forms in visual art were not discussed and taught. In accordance with the ideas of the cultural nomenclature of the period about clearly defined fields for the individual artistic disciplines, they were not even considered potentially enriching.However, he soon found kindred spirits among the members of the Tvrdohlaví art group which made its first public appearance in 1987, with understanding not only for artistic activity but also for self-realization in music and theatre. Yet only in Nikl’s case involving the wide spectrum of image, sound, language and body did it become the basis of all creative activities.
Like the performances of Nikl's plays where his visual sensitivity is strongly applied, many of his art projects are determined by the performative and procedural aspects of art. This is by no means limited to paintings which are executed by mechanical machines with the artist's assistance, often in the presence of the audience. This is also true, for example, of his recent works on paper in which he explores new possibilities by dipping rolls of paper in paint in anticipation of (again) only partially predictable results. Randomness and spontaneity help the artist to cross the horizon of his own imagination and provide him with the possibility of wonder at the resulting image. They are not far from Nikl’s drawing method in which his skill taps unconscious sources and the drawing is thus "let" grow out of contents which otherwise remain inaccessible. In them, too, Nikl is merely a participant who does not have a hundred-percent control over what kind of treasure his mind and hands will bring.
The exhibition in the Fait Gallery is rooted in the metaphor of a flower bed. While a garden is associated with a branching cultural symbolism, the flower bed as its sub-component is only a kind of working subject. Under normal circumstances it is cultivated and maintained in a state where it serves well the greater whole or a given purpose which, depending on the intentions of the grower, is either ornamental or utilitarian. A flower bed that is not weeded and consequently wild is a sign of neglect, while care is characterized by a high degree of restriction and control over what can take place in this demarcated area. In contrast, Peter Nikl lets his imaginary flower beds overgrow in anticipation of the unsuspected and surprising. For him, they are not what he carefully prepares and then follows a plan but a combined activity of plants, soil, sunshine, rain, insects, earthworms, moles and other elements that enter into the process. The flower beds - not dissimilar to stretched canvases or sheets of paper because of their limits - are thus filled with actions that we can only partially observe. And anticipate even less.
Thanks to this, they can turn into fascinating revelations which, through their self-organization and somewhat "disorganized organization" take us beyond (or "under") an objective and clear understanding of reality, to its massive organicity and complexity that is never fully graspable. And yet, this "big" takes place in the encounter with something as "small"... as a flower bed, a drawing or a painted image.
Text: Jiří Ptáček
Božetěchova Street 1 (entrance from Metodějova Street), Brno
Opening: 23/2/2012 at 7pm
Curator: Denisa Kujelová
The Fait Gallery Collection will introduce itself to a wider audience for the first time with a selection of works by leading representatives of the Czechoslovak pre-war and the interwar avant-garde. Selected works of Antonín Procházka, Emil Filla, František Foltýn, Josef Čapek and others are, in order to the outline of the collection profile and its connection with the contemporary art collection presented in Fait Gallery Preview, accompanied by graphic works of established artists from the late 20th century - Alena Kučerová, Milan Grygar and Jan Kubíček.
The dominating part of the exhibition is formed by the works of Antonín Procházka, that reflect the author's many years of effort to master the universality of the artwork with the help of geometry and inspiration by the art of ancient cultures. Through the tendencies close to unorthodox cubists Metzinger and Gleizes and Delaunay’s orphism, Procházka crossed the cubism by gradual reduction of the shape and completely specific stylisation, full of strongly coloured and curved shapes and spiral scrolls. His painting gradually grew in volume and plasticity, intensified by the use of unusual materials. In the years 1925-1926 Procházka grew into the Neo-Clasiccism affected by the figural art of archaic Greece, ancient Rome, Hellenistic Egypt and India.
Mostly Cubist paintings are accompanied by the bronze cast of the famous sculpture Anxiety (Úzkost, 1911) by Otto Gutfreund. This sculpture is generally seen as the first sculpture of not only Czech but also world Cubism. The influence of Czech Cubo-Expresionism can be found in the canvas by František Foltýn (Na stavbě /At the building site, 1924), where culminated his utter interest about the figure in a characteristic sharp angular shapes and robust expression. The emphasis on social topics and simplified factual depiction culminated in the year of the creation of the picture, when the Foltýn moved to Paris and there, under the strong influence of his surroundings, including František Kupka, began to devote himself exclusively to abstract art.
The need felt to respond to the growing dangers of Nazism in the thirties is evident in the work of Josef Čapek. At the same time, the war is also the main painting theme for Emil Filla. Because Filla and Čapek were both arrested by the Gestapo on the very first day of the war and imprisoned in a concentration camp, Filla's works from the years 1938-1939, mostly with the topic of Heracles’s fights, duels and bouts, were exhibited for the first time in 1945 in Mánes, in Prague. Emil Filla’s rich sculptural artwork is at the exhibition represented by the head of a woman who is deliberately confronted with a surrealistic sculpture A girl with a child by Vincent Makovsky from 1933.
Cubism was originally an inspiration also for Milan Grygar, postwar Emil Filla’s student at The Academy of Arts. In this exhibition he is introduced by a collection of acoustic drawings Antifon, that are a specific visual realization of the transcript of an audio event. Grygar has been working with the phenomenon since 1963. Also since 1963 has the graphic designer Alena Kučerová been using perforation in her works and since 1965 she has been adding the used printing stamps to the shown prints as specific art pieces. In the seventies she replaced the scenes from quite ordinary human situations by genre themes and she started to depict the animal motives in her graphic art. In the eighties she completely replaced the figures motives with landscaping themes. On the contrary, Jan Kubíček started as a landscape painter and through a unique form of lettrism and by rigorous analysis of order and exploration in the area of a form, he reached a fully autonomous rationalistic geometry.