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.
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.