IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU.
BUT IT IS ABOUT YOU.
Mate - We are a mere blip in the universe.
Me- That's why art can be anything, so shut up about ‘what is art?‘ Dunt matter.
‘The Door In‘
27.1.17 – 26.3.17
Milan Cais is a former student of artist Jiri David. He is probably better known as current lead singer of Svatecni Pop. He is probably better known even than that as the former lead singer of Tata Bojs and an undeniably cool, middle aged hipster, muso/artist.
He pulls the skinny hipster look off annoyingly well for a guy my age.
He's charming too. Tonight he lead a packed gallery on a guided tour of the three floors of his abstract water colour paintings, cleverly manipulated photographs and modern sculptures.
This was my first time seeing his art and my first time in Villa Pelle. Both were a happy discovery.
We are informed that the doors throughout the exhibition 'lead into each of us', also that Milan has shifted from concentrating his efforts on recreating subjective experiences of his personal life to creating middle aged, objective considerations of the world about all of us.
One door has ego aggressively scratched into it.
One door has a 'key to the dark side' hanging from it surrounded by gold studs in the shape of a heart.
One door is attached to 5 other doors in a kind of massive 'door-kerplunk'.
And one door bleeding black paint had a TDK cassette embedded in it like a Chinese throwing star.
The best was kept till last. The third floor is a large, hot attic which Milan had set up wonderfully.
This level was called |walls against history|. There were 7 or 8 sunken sections under the slanted attic roof, like pens for animals. Inside each was what looked like scattered remnants of materials used when making the pieces it displayed.
This gives the impression that we are in the artist‘s studio. Paintings lying flat on the floor, leaned up against piles of other paintings, sketches, clay busts and stringy detritus.
This was ‚different’and gave one a generally good feeling of being entertained.
It reminded me pleasently of Laurie Anderson's holographic works and sound experiments. (I say this despite Grayson Perry’s astute observation that the worst thing you can do is tell an artist that his work reminds you of someone else’s.)
A ceramic alien figure sitting in a wheelchair playing Radiohead's Fitter Happier song added to the overall feeling of fun experimentation.
Nothing felt forced and every piece of art complimented Milan's easy and welcoming personality.
If there is a dark side to Milan, his humour and ability to entertain wins out over the devil that might lead him to any such thing as cold, world-weary cynicism.
FREE OUTDOOR STUFF
Dukelskych Hrdinu 28
Well, people do still leave posters on this designated árt’ wall in Prague 7, however this may be the least viewed street gallery. It certainly doesn’t get the same traffic as the Artwall at Letna.
„Public spaces need not just be passively received; they can enhance and enrich. Is it good if the streets are filled with a colourful advertising space? Urchin gallery is open to everyone. Take the chalk and say what you want.“
No more black board or chalk but it always makes me feel good to see that the Urchin Gallery sign is still there. Let us reclaim the streets!
And this opposite the National Gallery where they had a free section (YAY!) this past two months in the moving image area (Inner Lives (of time)) where they were showing two of Maya Deren's classic avant garde short films; Ritual in Transfigured Time USA, 1946 and Meshes of the Afternoon USA 1943. There was also one short on a loop - Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler, House with Pool, 2004.
All three films convey an alluring sense of unreality from a predominantly feminine perspective.
These were each shown in separate, mock-up cinema sections both comfortable and unsurprisingly/unfortunately (for the gallery)/fortunately (for me) empty.
And then a few hundred yards down the road, this…
An experimental new art space in Prague 7. The first of its kind in the Czech capital apparantly. Lumiverse is ‚‘a public mapping gallery which plans to liven up drab cityscapes with artful video projections.‘
The first projection is a piece by Scottish visual artist Frances Sander on the building on Milady Horákové street opposite the tram stop.
We stood for 5/10 minutes watching a drawing come to life, then get erased and drawn over and rearranged and it was great. Frances managed this by using a projector mounted sideways from the balcony of the Lumitrix office. He has travelled throughout Europe creating site specific, large scale, live improvisatory drawing performances.
Lumiverse plan to expand beyond Letna and make this a more common occurence in the city.
Marek Nenutil aká Openmindz360
Chemistry Gallery - Bubenska
Feb 20th Vernisáž
The first thing Which hits you is the colours, then the figures, then the quantity, then the hands, then the subject matter, then the gratification of having worked out the subject matter amongst all the colours and figures and hands.
I can't take credit for finding the real meaning behind the paintings. That was my wife.
Me - What do you see?
Her - Hands
Me - Oh yeah! There's a lot of hands.
Her - And hard work.
Me - Oh yeah! All the figures are working.
And that is how you read a painting.
After Hana had cracked the code, I saw the polution, the toxic waste, the slaving over a decaying world. What we see represented by Marek‘s paintings is a world hard at work doing what we may think of as productive by definition but is in fact the direct cause of our planet's destruction.
His statues/busts were beautifully nasty illustrations of mutilated humans (a la the Toxic Avenger) - straggly bits of hair and melted plastic faces composed of a multitude of mucky colours bleeding into one another.
His confidence is to be found in his messiness. The abstract expressionistic backdrops have a life of their own. But I believe he is a man who appreciates details despite his wonderful grasp of the grubbier aspects of art brutishness.
His arms and neck are covered in tiny cartoon tattoos which is snazzy and he signed my FREE catalogue of his work on the page which had a photo of my favourite piece at the show, which was very nice of him. Got to look at his tats close up.
It was sweet to find, when we asked, that Marek was shy to make a speech; knowing full well how easy it is to let a Vernissage chug along while I slink around from person to person drinking wine till I turn invisible.
Shame too though, because we both wanted to know how close we had come to guessing the exhibition's core theme.
I think we nailed it.
Jan 24th – Vernisáž
I will quickly mention the two artists exhibiting at Centrala because they were both not boring.
Jaromir Lelek Jr (Director of Prague Micro Festival)
Jaromir has scribbled poems, reminiscent of Daniel Johnston's heartfelt, mad ramblings, on the walls downstairs and included photograph snapshots of a Lisbon festival he had been to last year. This approach fit the remit of an artist who is approaching his art in a 'post practice' way.
I love to read artist's words; whether it is one or two tossed onto a painting or whole sentences meant to amuse and confuse. I do feel that the words often help lift the lid on an artist's work. If you can't meet the artist then at least we get to see what words they feel comfortable sharing alongside their mute creations.
Besides, I love scribbling on stuff too. Ever since I dismantled and doodled on my parents' Sgt Pepper's album - first release. Cover, sleeve AND bonus cut out and keep badges and figures thingy. I taped over their Simon and Garfunkel in Central Park video by accident too. I am lucky they still visit me.
Shendra was also playful with her mixed media paintings. She had attached string and wire to each painting and connected them like some kind of psychotic switchboard with fantastical collages and incongruent communications image to image to image – the wires leading all the way down into the club.
This was another display which was refreshingly slap dash and made me think on Milan Cais' choice to lay paintings against each other, flat on the floor and sometimes making them only partly visible to the gallery visitor.
By doing this the artist is creating a form of interaction between viewer and the thing viewed as they attempt to help the viewer understand more clearly, 'YOU ARE IN A ROOM WITH ART IN IT!!!!'
Discarded cables, recycled wires, drawings, baloons, videos, photographs, installations, craft, performance, paint, soldiers, dancers, and, finally, the spectators - yes, that includes you -
Shendra’s Artist FB page
There is art in Centrala. Go to there.
Galerie Vaclava Spaly - Narodni
27.1 – 12.3.2017
Frantisek pleased me two times.
Once because he used so little of the wall space available and I began to realise that I should never get overly anxious about a lack of paintings I may have completed for any exhibition I have. Show four pictures, but show them bigly!
The second thing I enjoyed was his reaffirmation of the currently popular, loose and deliberately messy manufacturing of home made canvases.
This does work in breaking the tedium of a plain flat white work surface as well as giving a painting an a priori textural life.
The subjects were understated and avoided any obvious philosophical or political subtext. The titles were the names of the people in the portraits (family and friends) and the landscapes were monotone, scruffy, torn-denim canvas, Zen-like, subtle, sewn-together land-water-sky simplicities.
The weight of the work in fact came from the loneliness of the images on the large white walls. One portrait of approximately 200cm by 200cm hung alone in an otherwise empty 20 square metre room. It worked.
The canvas itself was what exuded character for me as opposed to the people Frantisek chose to portray. The style, you could say, was the content. This would not have succeeded however unless we believed he cared about the images he chose. I believe they were chosen very carefully.
As generic as the subject matter may at first appear, I do think that if he were to choose to paint a spoon it would no doubt look terrific and be a spoon which meant something more to him than we, as viewers, could grasp at first glance.
And now I see that I am talking as much about my work as his work.
Note to self - How often does that happen?
Note to self - Does it ever not happen?
It's not about you.
But it is about you.
It's not about you.
But it is about you.