Intervention #19: Adéla Součková

Intervention #19: Adéla Součková

Birthing Ancestors, Swallowing Landscapes

Adéla Součková’s exhibition at Liberec Regional Gallery represented an extract of her work over the past few years. The monumental figures created by a local folklore blueprint technique and organic contours bring us back to the archaic world of the universal concepts of birth, corporeality and mortality. The considerable influence of Eastern cultures correlates with the hand-dyeing technique using indigo and other pigments. The current production of Adéla Součková is manifestly linked to her previous imaginary landscapes inhabited by mythical creatures and figures. Already during her studies, she employed strong cultural references, whether they were classic literary works, religious symbols or visual archetypes, embedding them in unknown landscapes and unexpected contexts. As the artist’s imagination expands, their form can be hardly perceived as anything but a volatile state fleetingly transforming into another without losing any of its former states. They can be fast-forwarded or rewound.

Adéla Součková (1985) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (Painting Studio II / Vladimír Skrepl School) and from Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Dresden (Studio of Ulrike Grossarth). In 2017 she was artist in residence at Art in General in New York and in Sesama, Indonesia. Součková’s essential means of expression is drawing and painting, however, she also expresses herself through performance, object installations and video. In her work, she draws on the tension between nature and culture, old mythologies and archetypes as well as on the current debate on the themes of ecology and feminism. Součková regularly exhibits primarily at independent galleries in the Czech Republic and in Germany. She has presented her work at kim?- Contemporary Art Centre in Riga, Bozar, Brussels, at the Brno House of Arts, label201 in Rome, Zwischermaschine and Guardini Stiftung in Berlin and MWW Muzeum Współczesne in Wroclaw among others. In 2014 and 2015, she was a finalist of the Critics’Award for Young Painters. She lives and works in Prague and Berlin.

 

Curator's Text

The monumental figures created by a local folklore blueprint technique over the past three years seem to emerge out of a certain mythological archetype shared by all civilizations. Undiluted by detail, the distinct contours describe a sovereign arc, bringing us back to the archaic world of the universal concepts of birth, corporeality and mortality. The considerable influence of Eastern cultures correlates with the hand-dyeing technique using indigo and other pigments. The current prodution of Adéla Součková is manifestly linked to her previous imaginary landscapes inhabited by mythical creatures and figures. Already during her studies, she employed strong cultural references, whether they were classic literary works, religious symbols or visual archetypes, embedding them in unknown landscapes and unexpected contexts. As the artist’s imagination expands, their form can be hardly perceived as anything but a volatile state fleetingly transforming into another without losing any of its former states. They can be fast-forwarded or rewound.

This developmental path across various figuration styles, referencing the legacy of groundbreaking feminist artists such as Nancy Spero, up to the current fabric paintings, traditionally linked to the essence of women’s visual arts, make Adéla Součková into a sophisticated artist using an adequate form for her gender goals. Her blueprint on fabric period of several years was preceded by the table installation De ludo globi, 2015. Plates drawn on a tablecloth depicted planet Earth, animal body parts and various inedible commodities. This was the artist’s engaged way of showing the loss of human scale in the self-indulgent global world. Similarly to the current drawings of sea drinkers, catching the zeitgeist with a butterfly net, and gigantic hands smashing clouds, she uses her distinctive wit and irony to portray the human need to dominate, along with destructive materialism and confused values. The uncertain hope for change for the better is enhanced by a certain ephemerality and fragility of charcoal drawing. This sensitive, engaged and critical perspective of the contemporary world also appears in a number of her audiovisual works and installations.

One of Adéla Součková’s earlier fabric compositions featuring a two-dimensional stout paleolithic Venus in the context of a figurative installation (In Between, 2016) includes the line She eats all her ancestors. The motif of ancestors is also reversed in her numerous watercolors and drawings and recently mostly in her large-scale blueprints. She seems to subvert the sense of a linearly experienced continuum. Through hybrid silhouettes with various attributes of fertility and sexuality, she transcends the limits of individual human life as well as cultural and territorial limitations. The artist’s authentic mythologies transgress all imaginable definitions of time and space; fabricating and inverting mental and biological states, she aims to take us deeper into the cycle of birth, the relationship matrix, and our general existence in a time of globalization, multiculturalism and ecological crisis.

Titles and text are an integral part of Adéla Součková’s earlier work. Her imaginative and inventive language accompanies her drawings, asking provocative, controversial questions. She comments on her train of thought, activities and collective dilemmas. “I’m trying various ways of sorting out the world,” is how she opens a series of drawings and watercolors in her Underskin Experience Atlas (2012). She goes even further in her book Questions (2014), including drawings made in 2012–2015, and watercolors from Apocalyptic (2011–2012). With systematic sincerity, she addresses the alienation of extreme individualism from collective issues. She embeds the conflict between individual and collective interests, emotionality, gender and relations in the information age into ironic questions such as: “What are your desires for the planet?” However, the artist does not stop at appealing for a certain responsibility and mitigating this conflict; to conduct this viewer test, she often uses symbols, taking the path of formal reduction converging with the pictogram in her recent work.

Live drawing is yet another key element of Adéla Součková’s work. For instance, she employed it to address the topic of The Last Judgment (2014) on a gallery wall in Dresden. In her latest Prague project Exit the Loop (2019) created for Kunsthalle Praha and the New Stage of the National Theater, she conducted a series of live drawings, using meditative sounds produced by a Japanese performer and a moving image from the airport as a backdrop, to link civilization anxiety and the deliberate discomfort of a stereotypical lifestyle defying all natural laws as well as our control.

Mariana Serranová

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