Database

OBJECTive│Kunsthalle Bratislava

November 30 2018 - February 24 2019, Bratislava

The exhibition project entitled OBJECTive, now being premiered in Kunsthalle Bratislava, concentrates on mapping the state of current 3D thinking on the Czech and Slovak visual art scenes. Principally the aim is to confront and lend support to the current form of the object (including installations), as a distinctive mode of thinking in space and of the non-figurative language of forms and shapes and their significant contexts. The exhibition focuses on the generation of artists who entered upon the visual art scene after the change of regime (i.e. post-1989) and today figure in a wider Central European context. These artists were mostly born in the 1960s and 70s: to be precise, between 1966 (Černický, Ondak, Vanĕk) and 1980 (Lang, Sceranková).

Exhibiting artists: Jiří Černický (CZ), Viktor Frešo (SK), Krištof Kintera (CZ), Dominik Lang (CZ), Marek Kvetan (SK), Denisa Lehocká (SK), Roman Ondak (SK), Pavla Sceranková (SK/CZ), Tomáš Vaněk (CZ)
Guests: Peter Rónai (SK), Jiří Kovanda (CZ)

The exhibition project entitled OBJECTive, now being premiered in Kunsthalle Bratislava, concentrates on mapping the state of current 3D thinking on the Czech and Slovak visual art scenes. Principally the aim is to confront and lend support to the current form of the object (including installations), as a distinctive mode of thinking in space and of the non-figurative language of forms and shapes and their significant contexts. The exhibition focuses on the generation of artists who entered upon the visual art scene after the change of regime (i.e. post-1989) and today figure in a wider Central European context. These artists were mostly born in the 1960s and 70s: to be precise, between 1966 (Černický, Ondak, Vanĕk) and 1980 (Lang, Sceranková).
 
Characteristic in their art is a preference for postconceptual procedures, a critical and ironic or simply humorous reflection on the contemporary world, hybrid and fragmentary as it is. This art shows a picture of contemporary days as unsettled, trembling and “nervous”. Hence the works tend to use non-classical sculptural materials, found and cast-off objects, and the aesthetic of “post-socialist” recycling and memory (old and worn furniture, electro-installations, particleboard, plaster, polystyrene and polyurethane, the aesthetic of the handyman, DIY, and so on).
 
The poetics of materials, and bastard environments, in absurd encounters: that is what the exhibition is about. Installation is reminiscent of the disorderly system of a scrapyard, an abandoned bazaar, or some weird collection from the past. Everyday found objects are placed in new relationships and connections. There are combined and hybrid objects and states: asphalt-cable flowers from the urban “post-nature zones” (Cerebrum Asphaltum, 2017) by Krištof Kintera; odd spatial patterns by Tomáš Vanĕk cut out from plastic toys and rubber balls (Participle No. 17, 2001); a bizarre object by Viktor Frešo made up of a plastic container for vegetables, an old TV screen, a painted head, loading straps, and a forceful gesture in black paint brushed directly onto the wall (Object O1 from the series Overheads, 2017).  Added to these are some small moments – Sceranková’s incision made in a hand by a silver ring (Happiness, 2018); a plaster dog waiting by a vintage shopping bag, by Lang (Dog, 2015); Kvetan’s white shoes, placed in the interior of a glittering bijouterie (Reliquary, 2014), or Denisa Lehocká’s introverted pictorial diary with a fragile network of ephemeral situations.  These inconspicuous stories and shiftings of elementary materials often change the entire significance of the posited cultural situation and the possibility of reading it. At the same time, there is a kind of resistance to bombastic and spectacular installations. This register of contemporary forms of objects also includes interventions, occupation, or dwelling in the entire space: from the aggressive electrical leads, parasiting on a real electrical lead (Bonds, 2004/18) by Jiří Černický, through Sceranková’s expansive dancing office chairs on steel scaffolding (Constellations, 2013/18), to Denisa Lehocká’s intimate stories of crowded objects.
 
A distinctive chapter features objects and installations which sketch the atmosphere of a domestic room, the interior, folding furniture, or the “idiot” aesthetic of domestic masters and handymen in the “Do It Yourself” style. There is a striking hobby installation by  Marek Kvetan from polystyrene and particleboard, featuring ornaments with motifs of children, deer, fairies, and the heroic Rambo “burned” onto all materials (Hobby III, 2010); Kintera’s  “Van Gogh-style” clogs, embedded in concrete (Me Waiting In Another Room, 2009); Frešo’s head of a grandmother-style bed in a dim light, polystyrene, and his own mongoloid head (Recycle Me, 2017); and Sceranková’s Thonet chair, whose legs are “set” in fruit jars (Research, 2015). Filling in the sonic residue of old times is Černický’s interactive object, which, responding to the current movement of the viewer, retunes old news reports from the past (Anachronistic Radio, 2014/16). Finally, Kvetan’s insouciant installation brings us a symbolic linking of the global and the living-room worlds (Here in Our... II, 2010/18). This is a computer mixing of the colours of the national tricolours of Slovakia and Hungary, with the Hungarian mix-colour painted on the wall and an un-modern, flower-bedecked roller mixed from the Slovak colours overlain upon it. Equipment and paint pots are left lying around, as if the painter had just this minute run away...
 
We can further pursue the research field opened up here, with its preference for the aesthetic of cheap materials in former Czechoslovakia, the tower-block culture of bareness and aluminium rods, and a certain quotient of “Ost-algia”, transmitted to the present day. Through a series of objects, the exhibition thus communicates its own objective of setting and photo-shooting the world. Hence there is not just a distinctive “clash of materials” from high and low culture, but also “a clash of culures and galaxies” in the Sunday living room. We follow micro-events in the “sentimental” glued structures of Jiří Černický (Slumhouse, Kioskhouse , 2015); Kintera’s small sculpures and shopping baskets leaking polyurethane matter through their entire extent (Inside in Outside, 2017); Frešo’s old discarded lifts on wheels (Elevator, 2015) and weird objects composed from vinyl pipes, particleboard and builders’ foam (Untitled, 2014/18). Finally, we come to a trial-and-error dance of laboratory vessels with heads broken off on a beam (Trial and Error, 2018) by Roman Ondak, and a more complex installation by Dominik Lang: on a metaphorical  chessboard there is an intensive conversation in progress between old side-tables, flowerpots, cast-off gloves, plaster casts of hands, and a squealing little girl hunched under a table. There is only a momentary flash of a human figure, before it is once again swallowed up by the remainder of its wretched environment (Difficulties of the Chess Composer, 2015). A black-and-white video is projected into Sceranková’s large overturned particleboard wardrobe; the video shows little ping-pong balls hitting the artist, like unpleasant questions, or the impacts of present-day items of information (Measuring, 2015).
 
This laboratory environment of singular, scattered objects manages overall to reflect the contemporary global world, the “crossing” of cultures in the socio-political system and in the public (media) space. An example might be Kvetan’s sound-light object of an unwrapped carpet propped against a wall (Carpet II, 2015). This is a commonplace IKEA Persian carpet, from which the voice of Tarkan, an Arab-pop Turkish singer from Germany, rings out. Kintera’s paradise of objects presents mobile steel barriers which are meant to limit and separate street space; they acquire playful antlers and create a “general meeting” without impediments  – a paradisial encounter with mutual delight (Paradise Now, 2009). Ondak’s small “viruses”, disseminated throughout the entire exhibition, represent the intervention of almost twenty rucked-up remnants of copper roofs, painted in the two, three, or four colours of autonomous and separatist areas in Europe from Catalonia to Donbas (Autonomous Colours, 2018 ). Further, adding to his older work with a fluttering black plastic sack (Black Flag, 2011), Kintera provides some flags that are more colourful and (thanks to a ventilator) trembling – visions of better times to come (Flags of Better Future, 2017).
 
At the beginning and end of the exhibition there are invited special guests, two renowned artists who are a generation older and more experienced: Jiří Kovanda and Peter Rónai. However, they have not been admitted to the exhibition’s “hall of fame” but must remain ante portas  – before the gate to this world, the entrance hall, under the Kunsthalle stairs. Much as we are received in western cultural practice. Usually they deal with us in the vestibule, and after the obligatory coffee they ask us when our next train home is leaving... The Czech intermedia artist Jiří Kovanda mainly recycles objects and things from the background and stores of the gallery. With small gestures and interventions, he returns them to artistic circulation. The multimedia artist Peter Rónai recycles his older works and readymades, with the active involvement of the viewer, and models his “de-installations”. So then, this is not about some powerful artistic nude descending the stairs, but rather a strange intimate meeting of objects under the stairs, in touch with the space and the hinterground of the gallery.
 
The project sets itself the ambition of showing the affinity in sculptural thinking and the common cultural heritage of a generation of impressive artists in the symbolic year 2018. On the centenary of the birth of the First Czechoslovak Republic, we are thus celebrating a tradition, over a century old, of object art as a new medium. It is demonstrated that the current from Duchamp’s fountain is still to this day, in the form of a badly insulated wire, making and forcing its way through, and the seat of Picasso’s bull’s-head bicycle shakes its head incredulously and marvels that the wheel of the world is nonetheless turning on the kitchen table...
 
Vladimír Beskid
Exhibition Curator

Muzeum umění Olomouc 2011-2016