Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2023
An international jury selected four individual artists and one artist collective for the Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2023. Kryštof Brůha, Lenka Glisníková, Petra Janda, Gabriela Těthalová and the StonyTellers collective are the laureates of the 34th edition of the most prominent Czech award for artists under 35 years of age. Their joint exhibition will take place at the PLATO Ostrava gallery, which is in collaboration with the Jindřich Chalupecký Society since 2020. This year’s exhibition, curated by Jakub Adamec of PLATO Ostrava in collaboration with the JCHS curatorial team, will open on November 1st, together with the project Propaganda Station by this year's international guest, the established Dutch artist Jonas Staal. His work deals with the relationship between art, propaganda and democracy.
The international jury consisting of Ivet Ćurlin (Kunsthalle Wien), Anna Daučíková (artist and professor, Charles Esche (Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven), Fatoş Üstek (curator and theorist based in the UK) and Jan Zálešák (curator and professor, FFA Brno) selected from a total of 108 portfolios submitted by artists from the local art scene. Compared to previous years, this is the highest number of submissions yet.
The final selection represents a wide range of media and, in the words of the jurors, a transition of the young art scene away from the aesthetics and practices established in individual studios at art academies towards its own generational interests.
In their collective statement, the jury also notes that young artists are focusing on finding new possibilities, approaches and tools for grasping current challenges, rather than critiquing the causes of contemporary crises.
"Many works take the form of fictional documentaries, exploring vast utopian or futuristic landscapes. Other artists have taken an opposite approach to reality (or its projection) by breaking it into pieces, fragmenting it, or bringing it closer into view. Both tendencies seem to stem from a shared need to speculate on possible alternatives to our current conditions," the jury remarks in their summary.
According to the judges, the work of Kryštof Brůha displays a high level of professionalism and expertise, as well as a distinctive visuality. He combines the language of art and science with a consistency that is rare on the Czech scene. He is drawn to global topics and explores macro, even cosmic, levels. His expressive and visually enticing works translate invisible electromagnetic forces into the language of art and operate across various environments and geographic distances. They confront the viewer with a new form of understanding, while bringing imagination into play on the field of scientific data.
In her work, Lenka Glisníková presents an independent approach to photography and intermedia. The material and visual qualities of her work take the conceptual relationship to photography to a new level. Her projects easily keep up with the speed of social media and often explore technological developments on the borders of photography. Photography is deconstructed and reassembled into new forms; gradually taking on sculptural and corporeal qualities. Petra Janda's sculptures and objects form a base that the artist then infuses with meaning drawn from places beyond the gallery space. In her installations she uses, often agricultural, organic materials in interaction with real bodies, inviting them to action, so that they almost merge into one. She creates a meeting space rather than closed art forms. Her materials are consciously selected with ecology and care in mind, creating simple, but powerful holistic pieces.
Gabriela Těthalová’s paintings are bold, precise and speak in a highly contemporary and refined tone. In her most recent large-scale pieces, she develops complex compositions rich in layers, various depths of field and perspectives. Although her paintings are abstract in nature, she plays with imagination, narrative and exploration through small figurative or surrealistic elements.
The StonyTellers art collective seeks to build communities based on mutual care and sharing. In their approach, its members often incorporate social media, communicating via its simplistic aesthetic. Behind its eye-catching imagery, however, hides a rich and complex approach with multiple layers of meaning. They successfully translate artistic ideas into real-life social situations, by orchestrating carefully crafted, performative encounters. Their performances expose the existential anxiety and often precarious conditions of independent artistic creation and aim to strengthen interpersonal and interspecies communication and solidarity.
Propaganda Station is a new installation created for the Jindřich Chalupecký Society and the PLATO Ostrava Gallery, exploring the role of art and culture in the dominant forms of contemporary propaganda, as well as the possibilities of emancipated forms of (counter)propaganda. Propaganda Station takes the form of a network of nodes in space, each as a different mode of propaganda – alt-right propaganda, which represents the political impact of the works of propaganda filmmaker and Trump’s strategist Steva Bannon, financialisation propaganda, depicting the relationship between the economic crisis and the construction of high-rise buildings, or hybrid propaganda, showing the impact of Putin’s ideologist and former playwright Vladislav Surkov on the current war. The nodes are organised around a dominant focal point, which acts as a "school of propaganda". This central node will bring together artists, academics, activists and campaigners to explore propaganda and the potential for emancipatory (counter)propaganda. The international community will be involved too, but the participation of activists, researchers, theorists and other figures from Ostrava, as well as the rest of Czech Republic, will be crucial.
The aim of the Propaganda Station project is to shine a light on the role that propagandistic art plays in shaping today’s world and to explore the kinds of worlds that emancipatory (counter)propaganda could offer. The exhibition opening, curated by Karina Kottová on behalf of JCHS, will take place alongside the opening Jindřich Chalupecký Award 2023 exhibition.