Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2019 exhibition
Andreas Gajdošík, Baptiste Charneux, Marie Lukáčová, Pavla Malinová and Comunite Fresca, an art collective comprised of Dana Balážová, Markéta Filipová and Marie Štindlová, are the finalists of his years’ 30th edition of Jindřich Chalupecký Award. The members of international jury, who chose the finalists, were intrigued by works signaling a renewed and updated interest in materiality and sensuality and artists who are not afraid to approach classic disciplines such as painting and sculpture in an open contemporary way. The jurors were impressed by artists who enter the current social debate by their work while testing art as a tool of communication and perhaps even of possible change in topical issues.
The finalists were selected by an international jury composed of Laurel Ptak, head of the jury, curator and executive director of Art in General, New York, USA, Vjera Borozan, director of Artyčok TV, Czech Republic, Lenka Klodová, artist, head of the Studio of Body Design at the Faculty of Visual Arts at the Brno University of Technology, Brno, Czech Republic, Vasif Kortun, curator, Research and Programs Director of SALT (2011–2017), Istanbul, Turkey, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, founder and artistic director of SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin, Germany and Michal Novotný, director of FUTURA Center for Contemporary Art, Prague, Czech Republic.
In 2019 the foreign guest of the Jindřich Chalupecký Award exhibition at Pražák Palace is Tai Shani, an artist from Great Britain, who presents a brand new art project named Tragodía, which will subsequently be exhibited in the Temple Bar Gallery in Dublin and the Grazer Kunstverein.
Tai Shani's multidisciplinary practice, comprising performance, film, photography and installation, revolves around experimental narrative texts. Shani creates violent, erotic and fantastical images told in a dense, floral language which re-imagines female otherness as a perfect totality, set in a world complete with cosmologies, myth and histories that negate patriarchy. These alternate between familiar narrative tropes and structures and theoretical prose in order to explore the construction of subjectivity, excess and affects of the epic as the ground for a post-patriarchal realism. Curator of the exhibition Tragodía is Tereza Jindrová.
The Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2019 Ceremony will be held on 6 December 2019 at the Metropol Cinema in Olomouc as part of the PAF festival.
One could say that Comunite Fresca is a collective that is feminist in many respects. The three women artists, Dana Balážová, Markéta Filipová and Marie Štindlová, approach their work simply with joy, interest in their surroundings and genuine care. They chose the ancient medium of the fresco out of fascination by the very creative process as well as because of the meanings it brings. It enabled them to shift painting towards more direct interventions in public and private spaces and to reflect on the work in the sense of site-specific art; to paint for places and for people. Fresco per se is a permanent intervention, however, its definitiveness is not the main motivation for the artists. On the contrary, one should see the allusion to the natural transience of things and to the necessity to accept the unpredictability of fate in their works. It is this non-fatalistic approach that constitutes the fresh essence of their work. At the same time, however, the paintings are based on deep concentration, intuition, mutual communion and natural merging of signature styles, which almost borders on meditation practice. The processuality of creation, including the hand-crafted character of the frescos – pigment mixing, stuccoing etc. – is an important part of the work. They all work on the whole concurrently, while working in a group helps them continuously keep their distance from the work. That in turn enables them to approach a large color surface as well as one that is empty freely. In combination with the distinctive use of loose forms and particular motifs and details, this leads to compositions that are very balanced both in terms of aesthetics and content.
The project for Jindřich Chalupecký Award is centered on six interventions in non-profit organizations personally valued by the artists – The Way Home (Cesta Domů), Like Home (Jako doma), Homeless Cooks (Kuchařky bez domova), Independent Social and Environmental Movement (Nesehnutí), Offspring (Ratolest) and Public Protector (Veřejný ochránce práv). It is a symbolic gesture carrying the wish for the respective institutions to last. The artists see the interventions on the walls of each organization as a personal gift; which in return brought feedback in the form of more reciprocal gifts. Thus, the project gained a certain unplanned ritual element. The installation at Pražák Palace captures the artists’ experience with these interactions as well as their personal perspectives of the dialogs between art, places and people.
What fascinates Andreas Gajdošík about art is its potential usefulness, degree of interaction with the spectators and involvement in the surrounding world. He often works in virtual space, programming interventions in media and social media and creating mock websites. By his projects, he brings to light xenophobic and violent viewpoints commonly shared and “normalized” in online discussion forums. Andreas also uses his programming skills to manipulate the established structures of the art world. He combines this part of his work with “low-tech” projects mostly linked to his immediate environment; often that of his alma mater, the Faculty of Fine Arts at Brno University of Technology. However, even in these cases, whether he creates a school sauna or a grassroots studio, Andreas is still “coding” in a way: looking for system errors and gaps and finding what may be temporary but always functional and in many respects poetic and humorous solutions. Programming and the possibilities of sharing creative content online also interest Andreas from the perspective of inclusion and rejection of traditional forms of authorship – he often releases his projects under an open-source license, thus enabling their further use and development, while theoretically exploring the current forms and possibilities of art online.
At Jindřich Chalupecký Award, Andreas presents the outputs of his virtual experiment. He has created almost identical duplicates of the Czech news servers Lidovky.cz and iDNES.cz; however, besides common news, the sister websites l-dnes.cz and 1idovky.cz present the “hidden truth” from behind the scenes. For instance, the article titles and texts inform about the political negotiations with the “lord of this editorial board” Andrej Babiš. At other times, the prime minister, tycoon and media owner is given other attributes, such as “our firm censor” and initiator of the movement “YES, good times will come for Babiš”. These automatically generated attributes appear in every article mentioning the prime minister’s name. As these alternative servers are shared via social media, potential readers may not be immediately aware that they find themselves at a different address. What the artist is really after is primarily the events generated by this playful project, the comments and responses provoked by his daring deed.
Baptiste Charneaux perceives the surrounding space as a composition of forms, patterns and structures which he translates into his work based on observation and experience. His obsessive preoccupation with forms keeps motivating him to experiment with the material which has accompanied him for several years – clay. He describes his approach to his use of clay as a partnership, in the sense of a sensitive response to the behavior of the material and a necessity to become its companion. Molding clay intuitively, he attentively perceives its response to the touch of his hands and lets its qualities guide him, thus significantly influencing the resulting form of the work. The concept is to let the form and the material convey the meaning. What is typical for ceramics is that the creative process is entered by many unexpected factors which can alter the original intent. However, Charneaux accepts these risks and projects the principles of chance and uncertainty into the works, learning from their lessons. He acknowledges the fragility of the material and transforms it into a poetic metaphor.
He finds inspiration in architecture, design as well as crafts. Besides the material itself, a certain situation, too, can be the primary motif, which was the case with the artwork created for Jindřich Chalupecký Award. There he draws on his captivation by the process of ceramic tile production. He is testing the limits of the material, stretching it into extensive and at the same time very thin layers, which he grasps as pages ready to be invested. By their layering, multiplication and folding, he deepens the spatial composition and creates an almost surrealist landscape, achieving an impressive tension between the intensity of the material and its subtlety, between the object and its surroundings. By the shift of meaning from functionality to material substance, the ceramic tile becomes a kind of a membrane within the installation, a thin line between two environments. At the same time, it embodies the concept of full and empty form, enabling the experience of “in between spaces”, outlined moments and the lightness of the entire module. The delicate color, the fragile or even vulnerable scheme and the organic merging of shapes contrast with the metal elements and black cables floating over the entire scene. Baptiste Charneaux’s installations are characterized by their focused work with the whole space where the objects are installed, semantically communicating with all its factors. They are never a group of forms with separate contents and aesthetics but rather an elaborate composition with an important link between the work, the person and the place. Here, too, the viewers are invited to enter the complexly formulated environment and perceive the system of the relations of the individual parts that form it along with their own position in it.
As a young artist and mother, Marie Lukáčová cannot be unconcerned by the accelerating crises faced by the current civilization on a planetary scale. In her work, she combines a critical, activist appeal and imaginative, associative approaches based on her dreams among other things. She addresses the ongoing environmental crisis as well as the technologization of the society and its economic mechanisms, including the “magic“ of financial currents. She works primarily in the medium of narrative video which is often part of a spatial installation. Recently, her forceful narratives have turned into rap songs, with the artist gradually becoming the protagonist.
The work she created for Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2019 is a kind of a “video musical” or “rap operetta”. Insects, or rather parasites dressed up as humans reflect on the power and profitability of the image at a time when the digital world is getting less and less distinguishable from reality. The pixel is becoming the basic unit of the power system. It is not clear whether it is still on the monitor or already behind it. It can be used as proof for “fake news” and create brand new realities, while its value rapidly increases and power over it falls into the hands of the wealthy. The bugs (which can also be read as programming errors) have a potential to become the physical counterpart of the pixel, using the technology that is getting out of control for their own emancipation and return to corporeality; to be able to believe their own eyes again; in case they are quicker than the burning planet and the rising curve of the extinction of their own species. Marie Lukáčová’s installation, completed by an extensive ornament on the floor and by decorative curtains, becomes the site of a slightly surrealist, yet very urgent reflection on the future of endangered species on Earth; in which humans could be included if they were honest with themselves. The viewers have a choice whether to accept the colorful and in many respects even “entertaining” scene as a pure spectacle or to reflect on their own position in its narrative.
The way in which Pavla Malinová speaks through her paintings is at the same time telling of her view of human communication. She creates a landscape of symbols and pictograms with the individual layers overlapping and concentrating into a multi-layered whole. The figures in the paintings start dialogs, however, often without success, thus creating a silent space of misunderstanding. Whether by the colorfulness or the monumentality or even robustness of the figures, the artist produces an almost hypnotic effect in the viewers. Despite the fact that Malinová works with signs that seem clear at first glance, their use often leads to a loose interpretation, creating a very luring secret of hidden stories. At the same time, the paintings require a specific approach and state of mind. Trying to enter the labyrinth of meanings, we arrive at the necessity to reset our perception, suppress our thought-centric ego and accept the peculiar play of dreams, romanticism, pain, exaggeration, alienation, surrealism, loneliness and ironic humor. Within this emotional cocktail, we gaze at the massive shapes and human bodies. The paste-like color protrudes into space and the almost sculptural figures confront us with our inner and outer fragility.
In her work, Pavla Malinová alludes to the periods of surrealism, cubism and antiquity. However, in her genuinely current rendition, she shifts these influences to a personal level, with a large dose of sensitivity and courage for the particular. For the Jindřich Chalupecký Award exhibition, she chose water as the main theme. The element plays a psychological and emotional role rather than a political and environmental one. The installation of large-sized paintings is accompanied by objects in the form of mythical stones. In these, too, we can read fragments of human bodies and the water world which carries the moment of cleansing as well as the symbolism of the never-ending life cycle.