NAU GALLERY / Vilém Balej, Ryan O’Rourke / Hypernaturalizmus
27 January – 9 March 2018
“Painting is an act of seeing that returns through the artist back into the canvas,” says one of the taped up notes at Hypernaturalism, a new exhibition concerned with senses, vision and cognizance staged by Vilém Balej and Ryan O’Rourke. The show explores these diverse subject matters into realistic, yet reductive fields of vision. Like our senses which often betray us, the flesh of Balej’s nudes are perfect and smooth, well beyond our collective obsession with tools like Photoshop. The surfaces of these things, people and places are harmonious, without a pinch of dust or a wrinkle. It’s a pleasant world where the view is never spoiled by a jagged feature or anything unsightly. Even a mouth agape (as one of the paintings shows) offers a moment of tranquility. Here, a man stares with surprise at a light he is holding. I imagine this is how Balej and O’Rourke stare at the mundane: with wonder.
In one of several handwritten notes on the wall, Balej describes perspective as a diamond: “each area is different but they all fit in with each other.” It is a showcase of our origins that, like diamonds, have been in the making seemingly forever: a female body, religion, grid lines that lead through landscapes and interiors that organize objects and humans into plausible constellations. Conversely, Ryan O’Rourke is painting the opposite. His places and bodies turn into sights a diffusionary vision of a jewel-like world.
LUCIE DRDOVA GALLERY / Monika Žáková / Appearance
27 January – 3 March 2018
Upon entering Lucie Drdova Gallery, one has a sense of uniformity, gently diving into endless white and gray folds of paper. It takes a closer look to discern the complexity here – the shades that create rhythms through rupture. From the smaller pieces at the beginning to the bigger ones at the end, a pattern emerges but breaks in different direction with every crinkle. A blank piece of paper appears innocent but Žáková’s images are far from virtuous. However subtly, she lets them crush and collapse. Despite her efforts to be in control of the pattern, the medium does what it wants. Paper used is of different textures, raging from thin to grainy, covered in paint.
Appearance is like reading a fine poem – one of those where the subject does not matter as much but the form takes you by surprise. This is what we mean when we say that one needs to read in between the lines. In the third room, the final piece you see is as dark as a storm. I did not see it coming, this dramatic counterpart to its tame brothers and sisters. Lines come out to play.
NEVAN CONTEMPO / Blanka Kirchner / Vrstvy událostí
27 January – 9 March 2018
I will say it straight away. Kirchner’s practice feels satisfying. Those obsessed with recording of their personal fortunes, misfortunes and oddities of life will spend more than a healthy amount of time in Nevan Contempo.
Within three installations she charts the curiosities that accompany her personal milestones. In One Sentence a Day, five female friends record one sentence daily for a given amount of time. ‘It’s all relative, it’s a miracle than the world doesn’t collapse!’ ‘Looking at snow and sea calms me down.’ Those are just two examples from an array of quotes on the wall, ranging from mundane observations, through philosophical affirmations to more surreal automatic writing. One senses the personal struggle – what to record to remain relevant, to ensure that I chose the right thing to say?
In another piece she stretches her hair that has grown from 2010 to 2018 (two different strands, owing to a haircut) as a timeline. Like radiocarbon dating, but without a lab. Kirchner traces her birthdays, anniversaries, what she ate, where she went and random notes no one but her will understand. In another room there is a table with a typewriter, inviting you to write and stick your one sentence next to hers. It’s an analogue social platform, a public profile out in the open. Even in an impersonal space like a white cube gallery, one can truly imprint themselves and fill up the blank page.
SVIT GALLERY / Ondřej Petrlík / Black Lion
25 January – 10 March 2018
Ondřej Petrlík’s paintings reveal themselves the closer you get. Three steps in and your imagination is tested: the fur, the whiskers, the eyes, the contours of what could be limbs. Swamped in the neon light and sizeable interiors of SVIT gallery, you feel terribly alone with Petrlík’s works.
The paint is sometimes applied liberally, sometimes with more discipline and restraint, but it is always layered. Even underneath the ‘monstrous cobalt blue’ (to quote the accompanying exhibition leaflet) we would find black, white, pink and golden. It seems to me that in the end, it all melts into solid mutations of black. The nightmare is large and looming, like a deadly silent tropical forest. From in between the palm trees you can just about spot what looks like a dangerous cat. This is conveyed with greater success in the larger canvases where the atmosphere has enough space to show. It’s what I see in there, taking my imagination for a stroll.
|Index||Blanka Kirchner DRDOVA Gallery Monika Žáková Nau Gallery Nevan Contempo Ondrej Petrlik Ryan O'Rourke SVIT Gallery Vilém Balej|