Jan Merta: Return
Ve Vaňkovce 2, Brno
21. 2. – 5. 5. 2018
Curators: Denisa Kujelová and Jiří Zahrádka
The Fait Gallery returns to its original concept of exhibition series with three new shows. On Wednesday 21 February it opened a major retrospective of Jan Merta, one of the most distinctive contemporary Czech painters. In the course of the exhibition there will be two guided tours of the show with Jan Merta, and a month after the opening a new installation will be staged in the gallery. The Fait Gallery will mark the occasion of the Return exhibition with the Laozi audio recording by Jiří Král issued in a limited edition. The recording will be available on USB cards that can be purchased in the Fait Gallery bookshop.
In a distinct visual style rooted in his personal memory, Jan Merta transforms real-world subjects into specific projections of his own experiences. This unusually sincere approach is in its intensity and truthfulness towards the viewer remarkably transferrable and communicative. In most cases, the artist chooses as the subject matter of his paintngs, drawings and objects things and situations on the edge of ordinary attention that, however, are personally highly important for him. By removing them from their original context and by their free processing he fills them with new contents.
All of Jan Merta’s works have their own raison d’etre in particular stories, and his art is so closely linked with personal experiences that it could be understood as the artist’s diary records of events, experiences, memories and reminiscences of people, objects and places. Every new painting is for him a return in thoughts, and it is therefore hardly surprising that he has chosen this word for the exhibition title. However, it should be viewed at several levels of meaning: apart from the tite of a sculpture, the motif of return also refers to the show itself, organised in exhibition rooms to which Jan Merta returns with his new project after eight years. First and foremost, it refers to regular returns to the artist’s key theme circles, as well as to particular motifs which are, nonetheless, always approached in a different way.
Within the Return exhibition, sections such as Liberec are important; the artist returns in it to the places associated with his childhood and has worked on it, on and off, for several years, as is the subject of civilization threats and cultural codes as homage to Old Masters and specific works of art. Last but not least, the exhibition presents works referring to the artist’s penchant for Eastern philosophy. In 2010 and 2013 Jan Merta designed the book Laozi translated by Oldřich Král, and his close friendship with this extraordinary figure reinforced his interest in Chinese philosophy. In the Fait Gallery exhibition project this leading sinologist agreed to incorporate into the LAOZI installation his sound recording of the book accompanied by Merta’s paintings with fragments of cups and saucers. These symbolize clay vessels: according to the teaching of the Tao, the meaning and purpose of their internal parts only emerge with emptiness.
Jan Merta (*1952) counts among the most distinctive contemporary Czech painters and is one of the leading protagonists of the New Painting of the 1980s. Jan Merta’s postmodernist painting goes back to the first half of the 1980s when he abandoned the representation of external reality. It is associated with an authentic approach to art exploring personal memory, presenting the artist’s creative statements. Jan Merta is one of the most respected artists of his generation and has been twice voted the Artist of the Year by art critics and curators.
The exhibition opens on Wednesday 21 February 2018 at 7 p.m.
Photographic reproductions for the show can be downloaded at https://goo.gl/CrdecQ
Photographic documentation of the exhibition can be downloaded at https://goo.gl/oyV4rD (c) Lukáš Jasanský.
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