Polansky Gallery (joint vernissage)
INTERACTION 14.1. - 4.3. 2017
Curated by Oliver Zybok
"Human beings have at all times been inclined to falsehood." - V.Houdek
The curator Oliver Zybok finished his Vernisaz speech with a flourish and accidentally tossed the driggle of white wine remaining in his glass over the painting Vladimir, the translator and he had been standing in front of.
We gasped. They chuckled.
The accomplished grandiosity of his paintings belie Vladimir's sweet demeanour and sincere warmth.
Vladimir's paintings are difficult.
The curator's write up bears the tag line 'Between actual fact and factual fact.'
I would say I accuse myself of seeing only the factual fact of the work on first sight. Each painting is three, perhaps four paintings in one and then there is the complete image.
There is the black and white patterned base.
There is a thickness to the paint on the canvas which spills over the edges of the canvas and makes you want to lick the smooth, shiny, candy bulbs of excess paint and see if the snozberries really do taste like snozberries;
then there is the abrasively sharp coloured, almost three dimensional geometrical overlay which initially pushes you away with a calculated aesthetic violence, but with a little patience, you find yourself becoming hypnotised by Vladimir's painterly spell.
One notices the subtle scruffiness of the paint-smudged surface combined with the imperfect line connections in the underlaying, swirling patterns, like badly matched wallpaper.
This all combines to make for a giddy trip into the mind/studio/world of an explorer artist living and loving and sharing his own journey.
His is a visual trickery which plays on our instinct to lie even to ourselves about what we see and what we believe. A moments thought is all it takes for Vladimir's paintings to conjure before us the true dividing line between 'psychological effect' and the 'physical fact'. What we do with this vision is our own business.
I liked it and I liked him.
I'm Not Going
14.1. - 4.3. 2017
Curated by Christina Gigliotti
Although not present (Helena lives and works in Italy) Helena did leave us a poem welcoming us into her two rooms. Which was nice.
And so were her carpets. One on the wall with coat hooks attached and one on the floor with painted stools whose legs rest on white spots specially knitted for them.
I saw Helena's Fake Lake at the National Gallery and remember it as being one of the pieces I felt I wanted to help try to explain to a friend of mine who was visiting at the time. Despite being youngish and hippish, this friend still swears by his principled, inability to comprehend what he calls 'Modern Art'.
It was a beautiful zen-like sculpture in five or six parts spread out in a room of it's own. And so I tried to explain it. Well, I gave it a bash.
The Polansky gallery pieces are also sculptures of sorts. The brightly mottled carpets are conjoined with metal and wood and occupy their respective small rooms in a subtle and beguiling manner. You can kind of see both the pieces in one go the instant you walk into the first room. There's no real need to move further into the rooms. I did however but was very very aware that I was holding a full glass of red wine and were I to accidentally do what the curator did during his speech about Vladmir, Helena would have a fit.
I was glad I walked in and stayed a few minutes though because I got talking to a homeless looking guy called Honza. In a mixture of Czech, English and French, and skipping the need to talk about the art, he told me that hot rum was much better and stronger than wine and I should come with him and see all the other different alcohols there were to choose from. This I did.
Narodni Galerie - Veletrzni Palac
Against Nature - Young Czech Art
Against Art might have also been an appropriate title for this exhibition. And I mean this in the most positive way.
Curators Chris Sharp and Edith Jerabkova chose 12 emerging artists for their exhibition highlighting Czechia's new young talent. Chris explains that had it been two other curators scouring the studios of Czechia they might well have chosen an entirely different group of artists. Whether or not we are seeing Chris and Edith's own vision of how the art scene here is moving we are lucky to see 12, Czechia based individuals utilising the freedom they have to create art whose ambition is to better the world.
Such humanism is not immediately evident upon entering the space as 'spelling it out' is most definitely not on the curriculum here.
This art takes time to look at and time to digest. This art works slowly on you. In fact this art hit me most strongly over the following two days as I began to feel a connectedness to all things! For a few days everything was transformed. Every plant, every sweater thrown over the back of a chair, every gathering of clutter in a kitchen or in a studio, every bookshelf, every sentence, gesture or sneeze.
Art does take time and thought but it should also work on you in a subtle, gentle way; in a way which gently involves you, and places you smack bang in the middle of our own experience of the world within us and surrounding us.
Post-Conceptual artists deal with real things in real places.
The difference between these works and the works of 'traditional' conceptualists is their fuck you attitude to labels, cliched explanations, 'meaningful' gestures or any semblance of an attachment to a particular signature material or method. I have the feeling that each artist on display could well have been placed into the studio of any of the others and 'played their instruments' well and with an equal amount of joy.
It feels like there is far less of a connectedness to the past here and far more of an embracing of the moment. This was most evident for me in the video made by Tatiana Nikulina and the miniature models made by David Fesl 'Ocean Floor Series'.
Tatiana had made her own costumes which at first glance (and second) are far from costume-looking, until we see them all being worn in her film; a sort of Vic Reeves sketch without the laughs. Equally fun however.
David's tiny models, intricately made out of anything and everything are so much fun I wanted to spill them all out on the floor and ask the security lady to play sea monsters with me. I didn't.
David also won the 'minimalist' award, in my mind, for his tiny stick thing (2 inches) with red paper wrapped round one end. The broken quarter of biscuit with seven minute bits of paper stuck to it came second.
There were stand out moments for me but each piece created a feeling that there is a new force at work in the art world - dismissive of concept, philosophy or politics or at least dismissive of any that came before now.
It hardly mattered that I had favourites, I believe, because the whole thing is like a 'crap shoot' anyhow. The artists themselves will keep working and trying to grasp the interconnectedness of it all in whatever ways tickle their fancy. There is a new art at work here and it smacks of optimism. It is almost as if we are being shown that the old guard with their 'messages' and 'truth' and 'revelations' are being shown up as well meaning folk who missed the big picture.
Where did any of the great art lead us anyhow? Look at us! Look at where we have come to! Let's practice a little forgetfulness and try again.
Here there is no room for nostalgia. There is a distaste of comparisons. Yes everything is like something...except these things. Fuck the past. Fuck Arte Povera! Fuck Fluxus! Fuck Readymades! We have all been lied to. Art which avoids any possibility of being connected to a lie. Art which IS.
The artists chosen for the youth show deserve the time and space. In Veletrzne Palac they got both of those things. The layout of the pieces may have seemed overly simplistic, but I think the open arrangement on the 5th floor allowed for the exhibits to speak for themselves without having to shout or clammer for the best corner so to speak.
We may expect a more visceral approach to art in our galleries this year. Art which is not so much erudite or historically anchored but far more 'of the space', 'of that moment' - your moment.