08.10.2020 - 17.04.2021
Fait Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
Curator: Denisa Kujelová
Special opening day: October 8, 4 pm–9 pm
Jiří Kovanda’s work is typified by several trademark aspects which manifest themselves continuously, from early actions and installations through postmodern drawings and paintings, collages, assemblages and objects of the 1990s to the current interventions, installations and performances: inconspicuousness, efforts at contact, humbleness, simplicity, spontaneity, sensitivity, humour and manipulation with ego.
The austere rendering of low-key, almost indiscernible installations and interventions is already apparent in Kovanda’s early actions in which he examined the most elementary possibilities of nonverbal communication. Back in the 1970s, the philosopher and art theorist Petr Rezek pointed out an interesting fact, saying that Kovanda’s actions signified, above all, a desire for contact. At the same time, they are set not to be fulfilled: they were often conceived so that they forced the artist to work with his natural shyness and to go beyond this mental barrier. The participants were placed in unknown situations outside the framework of art, or situations which through their non-diversion from normal behaviour remained invisible for viewers, and were only made visible by their subsequent documentation by means of photography and presentations in gallery contexts.
Photodocumentation was crucial in the next phase of Kovanda’s work in which his physical presence was gradually replaced by mere records of his activity. With installations intervening in private and public environments without the presence of viewers, photography presented the only possibility of recording the artist’s traces in the form of various objects of daily use and trivial materials installed completely inconspicuously in different places, both outdoors and indoors, also regarding the indiscernibility and ephemerality of these interventions. The artist already articulated his completely natural strategy of creating an unexpected context for an object and leaving a trace of his activity in his early works such as fallen leaves stuck to the ground with a sellotape, wooden wedges inserted between cobblestones and a pile of pine needles and nails in the forest, or interventions in interiors, for example, a flower pot hidden behind a pillar, a string tied around the same pillar two months later and a white string stretched across a room in Kovanda’s home.
Kovanda’s actions frequently involved banal situations, ordinary activities and mundane tasks that we do automatically, yet acted out in a shifted context. Likewise, in his installations and interventions the artist shifts ordinary, routinely used objects to a completely new, unexpected level by removing them from their original situation and taking away their primary utility function. Thanks to his work in the National Gallery depository Jiří Kovanda first started to use in his installations material related to installation practice in the everyday gallery run, for example strings, paper, glass and wooden wedges. He also employs things of daily use and household objects including foods in his current installations and interventions, along with objects typical of a particular place. Through them he makes a space more visible and defines its individual parts, and thus also slightly manipulatively determines how a particular space and its layout is perceived by viewers and sets a new manner of movement in this space. Jiří Kovanda’s installations are not rooted in an idea of a certain place suitable for or adjustable to a particular work; instead, he executes an idea and the preparation of a situation which is to make up the base of a new project, or of the employment of some of his older works, directly on the spot. This is also the case with the central installation Gold Ring which, perhaps most of all the works on display, prompts a reflection of values, in a metaphorical comparison of a string and a ring, an ordinary thing and an exceptional object. Everything has the same value, all depends on context and interpretation.
A virtual tour of Jiří Kovanda's exhibition - Ten minutes earlier can be found here.
 It was a provisional gallery space in Provaznická Street. The basement room of the Odeon publishers where Jan Mlčoch worked from 1978 was originally designed as an archive, and until Mlčoch’s resignation in 1980 was used by three Prague body artists (Karel Miler, Petr Štembera and Jan Mlčoch) as a meeting place. They staged there their own performances as well as those by their close friends, including Jiří Kovanda.
 In this respect, a key role in Kovanda’s art was played by Marcel Duchamp’s exhibition in the Václav Špála Gallery in 1969, prepared by the chief curator Jindřich Chalupecký in collaboration with the Milan art collector, gallery owner and art theorist Arturo Schwarz.
 In 1977 Karel Miler got Kovanda a job in the National Gallery in Prague; he was responsible for a depository housed in the Municipal Library. Kovanda worked there until 1995 when he became an assistant professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, in a studio headed by Vladimír Skrepl.
 Not surprisingly, the artist’s installations tend to be confused with ordinary things accidentally left in a space, and as such must be carefully protected from the over-enthusiastic cleaning staff.
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.