Jindřich Chalupecký Award: Final 2017

Jindřich Chalupecký Award: Final 2017

For a second time, the Pražák Palace of the Moravian Gallery in Brno hosted a collective exhibition of five finalists of Jindřich Chalupecký Award. In 2017 edition, these include Romana Drdová, Dominik Gajarský, Martin Kohout, Richard Loskot and Viktorie Langer Valocká.

Although each artist has prepared a solo project on this occasion, together, their accounts can be perceived as a certain probe into the way in which the up-and-coming generation reflects on the challenges of the contemporary world. In a spectrum of media ranging from painting through film to installation, the finalists address themes such as emotional tension versus possibilities and limits of therapeutic and relaxation methods, the impact and context of night work and night life, domesticity in connection with futuristic visions and science, multi-sensory experience on the edge of illegality, and the possibility of transferring exotic inspirations into the local (and yet surreal) environment.

The finalists of this edition of Jindřich Chalupecký Award were selected by an international jury comprising visual arts critic, curator and art manager of the Ostrava City Gallery PLATO Marek Pokorný, visual artist Jiří Kovanda, art theorist and director of the Slovak National Gallery Alexandra Kusá, director of The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo Gunnar B. Kvaran, art theorist and curator Pavlína Morganová, and curator and art consultant at Bottega Gallery and Shcherbenko Art Centre in Kiev Marina Shcherbenko. 

For a second time, the presentation of the finalists of Jindřich Chalupecký Award included an exhibition of an international guest. A new work created for the Atrium of Pražák Palace and an intervention into the permanent exposition was prepared by internationally acclaimed German artist Clemens von Wedemeyer.

Romana Drdová

In her work, Romana Drdová draws on her perpetual fascination by the lived experience; the experience of an individual in a world defined by globalization, consumption, commodification and virtualization. She thus finds inspiration in fashion, gastronomy, design, advertising, cosmetics and generally product aesthetics which she uses and even misuses by exposing the absurdity of overproduction. The main motives in her final installation include emotional estrangement on the one hand and physical presence/experience on the other hand. The artist raises the question of how one is to cope with the need to feel something. According to the artist, a possible answer is given by the objects of daily consumption; by their pleasant shapes, materials and structures, they satisfy the need for the experience of touching. Drdová expresses this urge by the haptic nature of her objects, composition with diverse materials and their color scheme. Touch is naturally linked to the need of intimacy and closeness. On the one hand, Drdová plays with inducing a sense of an almost erotic tension (textile surface, physical fragments in the video), however, at the same time, she is also interested in the very opposite: an impersonal, asexual form of emotional interaction; a faceless partner that can even be a robot. While we share our experiences and impressions impersonally through communication networks and social media or perhaps even with virtual companions, our immediate touch with others is at the same time impersonalized by multiplying barriers; Drdová notices division and “protective” elements in administrative offices (counters), in restaurants (tables in separate boxes), in shopping malls, at airports and in similar “transit” zones, or even in places of pilgrimage and in churches which became a dehumanized tourist attraction. The artist transposes these very elements into simple objects made out of acrylic glass which she places on an elevated platform so they do not escape our attention, arranging them in mutual relations and thus creating a new dynamic telling of society and human relationships.
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Dominik Gajarský

The main domain of the work of Dominik Gajarský is photography and moving image, often in confrontation with the written or spoken word, with the artist using specialized literature, poetry, anecdotes and popular wisdom as his sources. In the past, he has also employed color lights for an atmospheric installation of his works. These elements are again concentrated in his final project. The room adapted to the screening of his latest film is far from being a neutral black box: the green illumination, the slanted projection angle and the chance to lie down in deckchairs make the viewers relax and immerse themselves in an environment whose overall effect is enhanced by an olfactory experience. Gajarský, who is experienced in perfume making, used a pure hemp essence to create a scent interconnecting our physical reality and the watched video. Combining a non-narrative visual component and a personal narration, the film is a continuation of the artist’s interest in animals, their relationship with man and primarily the anthropomorphism of animals as an expression of human culture. This time, he has rendered the utterances of a snake and a goose in the manner of a fable. Their stories are inspired by “real events” – sensational news found online by the artist whose common denominator is the interaction of an animal and a car. However, they also embrace general human emotions such as fear, loneliness and disappointment. Moreover, Gajarský inconspicuously infiltrated the animal monologues, interspersing them with excerpts from classic literature dealing with the relation of drugs and modern thought (Thomas De Quincey: Confessions of an English Opium Eater, 1822; Aldous Huxley: The Doors of Perception, 1954; Sadie Plant: Writing on Drugs, 1999). Although the selected sentences do not immediately refer to their sources, they ultimately put Gajarský’s work in a slightly different light; the purport of the video and the installation can be perceived as ironic or also provocative in terms of the appreciation we usually have for sober human rationality.
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Martin Kohout

The work by Martin Kohout which he perceives as bordering on short film and video receives a premiere at the final of Jindřich Chalupecký Award while also constituting a part of a larger project which includes other videos and expert texts and which was supported by the Video in Common production company. The central theme of the project is the issue of night work and its social, economic, physical and mental aspects. The work presented at the final exhibition includes several episodes which do not have the structure of a narrative sequence but could rather work separately. The linking element of all the parts is a group of three half-fictional characters who never meet at one time: a partner couple Asli and Bora and their friend Sung. While Asli works during the day, Bora goes to work at night; the time they spend together is thus very limited and the main portion of their interaction takes places via notes and messages. The theme of night work, as well as the alternation of the day and night regime, rather constitutes a contextual background for the central motive of an asynchronous relationship, or human communication and its ways in the 21st century. Another significant layer of meaning is represented by modern technologies and the ways in which they transform our everyday lives; whether in terms of living in an urban environment, protection of property or purchase of goods. The messages exchanged by Bora and Asli resemble the depiction of weird dreams or visions “under the influence”; at the same time, they have the form of rather disturbing anecdotes, as they capture situations which we may not experience today but could easily imagine experiencing in the near future.
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Richard Loskot

The final project of Richard Loskot is an ambitious interconnection of a whole range of motives and processes which have appeared in his previous work within a new whole. The multimedia installation straddling two halls of Pražák Palace revives the history of the particular building which used to serve as a residential building. By means of minimalist forms, Loskot creates an environment reminiscent of an apartment interior – a study room/bed room and a salon/dining room. The main characteristic of this apartment, however, is the absence of its inhabitants and their immediate traces. The formal purity borders on emptiness and even those elements that might produce a reassuring impression of coziness – the singing of a canary, a reading voice, sun reflections or a resting cat – paradoxically seem oddly estranged. The artist also challenges our vision by using modern technologies to put obstacles in our way, determine our view angle, and double and enhance the image of reality by a virtual (and in a way richer) dimension. Richard Loskot has mastered the art of illusion and deception, however, what matters is not achieving the perfect illusion but rather the moment of revelation in which we may realize the purely technological nature of something we considered “natural” in the first moment. The very category of naturality is thus challenged.
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Viktorie Langer (Valocká)

The painting style of Viktorie Valocká can be hardly mistaken for someone else’s: on the one hand, her work is reminiscent of 20th century styles such as Informel, Tachism, the surrealist décalques of Max Ernst and Czech artificialism in the rendition of Toyen; on the other hand, it convenes with the current tendencies of renewed interest in materiality and manuality as well as in merging applied forms (textile art) and “high” art. Experimentation with dyeing and bleaching textiles (including used bed sheets) opened up new possibilities of working with image and its installation in space. The cluster of three large-size paintings made for the final exhibition is in a way a return to “classic” painting; i.e. painting on primed canvas stretched on a frame; however, at the same time, it draws on the artist’s previous experience with dyeing textiles and their formal register. The combined technique using acrylics, oil paint and wax is based on a cumulation of color layers which blend into an impenetrable matter in some places while attracting attention by their luminosity and transparency in other places. The common denominator of all the canvases is a nervous calligraphic line reminiscent of automatic drawing. Under the layers of paint, all the three canvases reveal a hardly recognizable motive of a dolphin which gave name to one of the paintings and which is also seen on the sofas covered with painting. The sofas complement the traditional wall triptych by a spatial installation which enables the viewers to experience painting from a completely different perspective. Valocká usually finds inspiration for her paintings in things and people in her environment as well as on her international trips. The largest of the exhibited canvases entitled HighFa combines abstract surface and realistic detail in a painting of the sacred garden Bahá’í in Haifa, Israel. To the artist, the “faithful rendering” of a place that is administered as sacred although it was constructed only a few decades ago is an ironic commentary on realist painting.
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Co-organizer: Moravian Gallery in Brno
Main partners: Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, Council of the City of Prague, J&T Bank
Main media partner: Czech Television Exhibition partners: Council of the City of Brno, State Culture Fund of the Czech Republic, Czech-German Fund for the Future, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e.V.
Financial support: Czech Centres, City Quarter of Prague 7, Trust for Mutual Understanding, Partners: National Gallery in Prague, Centre and Foundation for Contemporary Art Prague, Residency Unlimited, Scala University Cinema, Stuchlíková & Partners, Fair Art
Media partners: Art+Antiques, Artyčok.tv, ArtMap, Artalk.cz, A2, GoOut, KAM, Radio Wave, Radio Krokodýl, Railreklam Special partner: AGC Flat Glass Czech a.s., Tarkett, AQNB Productions