HangART–7 Edition 18: Czech Republic

A Dance

The 18th exhibition in the series HangART-7 continues this year’s programme, after the previous one on Poland, on Eastern Europe and affords us this summer a view on the Czech Republic from July 9 to mid-September. The Czech Republic is a country with a rich cultural history and international significance. Its literature can boast of such authors as Franz Kafka and Milan Kundera, and its music of composers such as Bedřich Smetana and Antonín Dvorák.

But not only literature and music with their classical melodies and moving words are interwoven with this country: it is also worth discovering its recent art scene, particularly in the capital city of Prague. The Prague Academy of Fine Arts (AVU), with its strong tradition in painting, attracts artists from all over the country and provides them with the opportunity to develop their art and establish themselves in the Czech art world. 

Together with the Czech artist and curator Daniel Pitín, curator Lioba Reddeker selected eight artists for the exhibition. “I have followed the work of some of the painters for several years,” writes co-curator Daniel Pitín in the exhibition catalogue. “They work with tremendous dedication and seek a resonance beyond the borders of their country. Not all of them have so far succeeded in this, but what has held them back has not been a lack of resolve as rather the passivity of Czech institutions and the general reserve of local cultural policy.”

The goal of this exhibition is to show the diversity of approaches to figurative painting and to provide a platform not only for those artists who have long been professionally engaged as painters, but also for those who have only just entered the art world.

Some of the selected artists tell of places and people in pictures, mainly based on personal memories and interwoven in scenes of everyday life, as in the works of Josef Bolf and Zbyněk Sedlecký. Others let us experience new interpretations of romantic motifs such as landscapes, as does Veronika Holcová. Narrative and playful at once, some of the presented works also come to grips with figuration (Tomáš Němec, Jakub Španhel). Others experiment with materials such as textiles (Michal Pěchouček) or use a language of symbolism that often seems ironic to the viewer and allows ample room for interpretation (Robert Šalanda, Alžběta Josefy).

Works are being shown by:

Josef Bolf (born 1971), Veronika Holcová (born 1973), Alžběta Josefy (born 1984), Tomáš Němec (born 1986), Michal Pěchouček (born 1973), Robert Šalanda (born 1976), Zbyněk Sedlecký (born 1976), Jakub Špaňhel (born 1976).

Bolf_GirlwithScarf.jpg
Josef Bolf, Girl with scarf, 2011, oil on canvas, 20 x 25 cm
Bolf_Therapy_1.jpg
Josef Bolf, Therapy II, 2010, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm
Holcova_Dream_of_a_rest.JPG
Veronika Holcová, Dream of the rest, 2010, acrylic and oil on canvas, 135 x 115 cm
Holcova_Island.jpg
Veronika Holcová, Island, 2008/10, acrylic and oil on canvas, 160 x 185 cm
Josefy_Maiko_1.jpg
Alžběta Josefy, Maiko, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 175 x 125 cm
Josefy_untitled_1.jpg
Alžběta Josefy, untitled, 2011, acrylic and oil on canvas, 80 x 60 cm
Nemec_Konzert.JPG
Tomáš Němec, Concert, 2011, oil on canvas, 150 x 180 cm
Nemec_Kytka_170x135.JPG
Tomáš Němec, Flower, 2011, oil on canvas, 135 x 170 cm
Pechoucek_Time_for_bedXVIII.jpg
Michal Pěchouček, Time for bed XVlll, 2009, textile and acrylic on canvas, 210 x 140 cm
Pechoucek_Time_for_bedXXXlV.JPG
Michal Pěchouček, Time for bed XXXlV, 2010, textile and acrylic on canvas, 200 x 200 cm
Salanda_couple_VII.JPG
Robert Šalanda, Couple VII, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 190 x 250 cm
Salanda_untitled.JPG
Robert Šalanda, untitled, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 190 x 250 cm
Sedlecky_untitled.jpg
Zbyněk Sedlecký, untitled, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 260 x 160 cm
Sedlecky_Vaclavak_1.JPG
Zbyněk Sedlecký, Vaclavak, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 150 x 240 cm
Spanhel_Berlin.jpg
Jakub Špaňhel, Berlin, 2009-2010, acrylic on canvas, 225 x 170 cm
Spanhel_Chandelier.JPG
Jakub Špaňhel, Chandelier, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 220 x 160 cm

Further information

Exhibition period and opening hours

09 July until the beginning of September 2011

Every day from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm

Josef Bolf (*1971)

In his paintings, Josef Bolf compresses scenic (remembered) contents and presents them as events that have already been processed and subsumed and which are affected by various forces. Childhood memories incorporate later experiences, along with the residual effects of films, images and conversations. Apparently random agglomerations of television images, drawings from comics and even incidents from the present are blended into remembered images. The medium of painting allows Josef Bolf to create in a narrative way coherent images which nonetheless, through the pictorial shaping, composition and amalgamation of disparate image elements from different sources as regards time, media and content, show those moments of strangeness and mystery that are residual effects of the other that has become part of us.

Veronika Holcová (*1973)

The works created by Veronika Holcová represent one of the striking yet now relatively rare phenomena of painting expression based on a direct, purely sensual method that creates an illusion. She has been dealing for a long time with the theme of her own internal feelings, the sources of the individual and collective memory; but her connection of metaphysically surreal figuration with the emotional effect of the use of strong colors constantly has the ability to look behind the boundaries of the visible world. A series of large-format magic landscapes (such as Dream of Roots, 2009, Dream of a meeting, 2010) was created with a technique that seems random at first glance. But nothing is random here. The brushwork is careful. The colors on the canvas flow into each other, blobs of color build layers and accumulate, vegetative forms are transformed into almost biological structures with detailed shaping.

Alžběta Josefy (*1984)

Painting is the most natural form of expression for this artist. From the many possible ways for creating art, this medium is the form in which Alžběta Josefy provides a space for her ideas – a space in which they are modeled and staged with dramatic effects. Against a mainly dark background, the young artist paints portraits or, more accurately, attributes and symbols on the basis of which the figures shown are described. The secret world of the geishas, the deep concentration of a torero before he enters the arena, or used dancing shoes; the artist chooses a moment shortly before or after the climax of the action in order to increase the tension in the picture. In this subtle way, latent but often invisible dramatic feelings and situations become the main theme of the works: the spotlights are focused, not on the main stage, but behind the scenes.

Tomáš Němec (*1986)

The interests of Tomáš Němec are wide-ranging: He loves films by Pasolini, Hitchcock and Tarantino, is enthusiastic about music, about Chopin and Callas as much as Blondie and Édith Piaf. And still, all these interests converge on a common aim – painting. It presents us with Piaf, makes her sing, pose and enjoy the audience‘s applause. Other pictures show everyday objects and scenes that capture his world like a diary: a crow, for example, in the middle of a letter case, and lots more which, in contrast to the theatrically charged scenes with Piaf, seem unspectacular and anecdotal. These are scenes which normally would hardly have been considered as likely to survive as art. Although Tomáš Němec creates the paintings themselves “classically” in oil on canvas, he does it in a way that often gives them the spontaneity of water colors. Yet they are just right for such fleeting impressions: a rose, a little dog, a plate or a tree in full, splendid blossom.

Michal Pěchouček (*1973)

Michal Pěchouček works with various artistic media and his means of design are also varied, and often unusual. In the pictures in this exhibition from the Time for Bed series, it is, for example, real fabrics that are sewn to the linen, the painting substrate, so that they appear as what defines them as actual objects, such as shirts, underwear and pajama pants. These are incorporated in plastic terms into the “painting”, defining it irrefutably as an object, although they are figurative images.The bodies of the people depicted in this way are raised, like reliefs. They are modeled out of the body of the picture, which means that the picture carrier is not only a passive material carrying the image, but is itself a medium and part of the content of the picture.

Robert Šalanda (*1976)

A series of central elements permeates the work of this artist, born in Olomouc: reduced language, geometric shapes, symbols and empty spaces. But his paintings are only part of his artistic oeuvre. Robert Šalanda, who completed his study of art with Professor Jiří Sopko at the Academy of Fine Arts in 2002, abandoned the medium of painting for a year and a half, and then returned to it later. He himself describes working with a range of media and changing from one to another as a break. In his pictures too, the artist quite deliberately breaks the surface of the canvas to cause irritation. A line ends abruptly or a branch is mercilessly cut off (untitled, 2009) – all attempts to liberate the picture from the surface and to cast doubt on systems of perception.

Jakub Špaňhel (*1976)

Jakub Špaňhel has been painting since he was a child. He also stays true to the themes on which he works. They come back to him constantly, time after time, and he revises them afresh after certain periods of time. In this way, a series of often truly monumental pictures is created which undoubtedly have that certain something that is difficult to put into words precisely. His painting is elemental, direct, spontaneous, wild, unformed, flowing, glowing, vital, authentic, confident, black and golden. Through the reduction of form, he succeeds in minimizing the drawing character of the motifs, no matter whether it is the constant luster that at times seems golden and at times glowing, flowing down across the canvas or gradually disappearing, or the dramatically conceived space of a Gothic church.

Zbyněk Sedlecký (*1976)

City landscapes and everyday urban life are the central motifs in the works of Zbyněk Sedlecký. His glazed, almost watercolor-like application of color supports the impression of fleeting scenes that characterize his imagery: groups of people in passageways, in front of shops, in public squares. It is not a common interest that brings these people together, but rather the built reality of the city, with its buildings, traffic systems, public squares and commercial areas. This urban architecture structures the everyday goings on of the population and, with invisible rules, controls their movements, views and activities. The fleeting scenes and apparent random nature of incidents which are also documented almost in passing in the paintings are, in contrast to the feeling of these pictures that were created with such ostensibly light gestures, dense descriptions of the present lives and the reality of a whole generation.

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HangART–7 Edition 18: Czech Republic


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HangART–7 Edition 17:
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