Right Side – Left Side Game
13.02. – 10.03.13
On Lenka Vítková’s painting – journey
Lenka Vítková is a conceptual artist regardless the medium; when taking into account the medium she uses I see her as a text artist and essential painter. Either is inseparable from the other. It seems that her painting is an unwinding journey that slowly, with the benefit of hindsight, leads her steps, while the text engages and carries away particularly her mind. Vítková’s painting is physical in the process of its creation and expression; however, it is based upon discrete spiritual background. In connection with her current exhibition I will take the liberty to present a couple of my observations concerning only her painting, although my thoughts keep straying in other directions.
The Pansies (2005), just like other Lenka Vítková’s acrylic paintings, grew up in tufts. Somewhat sad and fragile heads whose velvety dark centres – maybe skulls – gently creep up into the yellow perianth on the structured background of burlap. In 2005 Lenka Vítková returned from her journey to China and her latent inspiration by China that could have been observed in her previous works was thus confirmed, although at the same time literally overwhelmed by Lenka’s own style, this time more ponderous and markedly more materialistic, but without the heavy style of the European brush. It seems that the Chinese architecture of small temples, houses and shops was used as an archetype for the small exhibition pavilion 36 at the Flora Olomouc Exhibition Grounds, which is where The Pansies were exhibited and where Vítková discovered the tiny space, first for herself, for installation of her paintings. By providing the stand after her exhibition to other artists she became a gallerist – the main curator of the small pavilion 36 with a glass wall. As if Olomouc, a reserved, maybe even a reclusive city, had waited for that small-in-size, authentic, easy-access exhibition area filled with 36 exhibitions – and felt it was not doing enough to appreciate its real value.
In the group exhibition They Stood and Waited Until He Appeared in the Experimental Space NoD in Prague Vítková first presented (together with her text The House (2008) her series The Clothes (2008). To be more precise, she actually presented an installation of twenty small black pieces that hung there, carnal, full of references, baggy and empty and at the same time as a silent choir. They hung in the NoD as a sum of expressive, dark, dematerialized but still heavy objects – signs on neutral white background; they looked like an independent set in a meaningful context. The Clothes fitted the exhibition of current media absolutely naturally: paintings in the NoD resonated with live songs, audio recordings, texts and videos.
Another set that I find very powerful, in spite of its rather small extent, is Eternity (2008): fresh and unfinished paintings that were created in Sarhorod, where they have remained. As if the simple models made of eternit transferred to canvas were a genuine monologue about painting, their total freedom can be also sensed in the seemingly limited range of colours. As if they were for Lenka Vítková indispensable fundamental studies.
What I consider an important milestone is the exhibition in Školská, since it contained inherent contradiction. The figures in the paintings resist brushes, dissolving into silhouettes, almost in shadows. As they move, a story creeps unintentionally onto the canvases. Fortunately for the figures, who were Lenka Vítková’s main object of interest at that time, they became earthy again. The greatest strength of Lenka Vítková’s painting lies in the vigour she paints with, which is the reason why it might be better to perceive her sets as independent and isolated signs. Darker figures may then seem to be a part of a cut-out text. Their stories have been successfully repressed. Only then can the figures break away and become independent like calligraphic letters. Three dark studies of the female figure are opposed by a figure with a red cap, permeated by freedom and ease, just like its hand touching reed … Untitled (2009). A gesture, fickleness and expressive lightness of this painting refer to the Orient, but also very firmly to the most current painting. The double root of the paintings exhibited in Školská is life-giving. From all the indirect references in the Euro-American torrential stream it makes me think of Wilhelm Sasnal. I should not ignore a retrospect on small japoneries and their great impact on European expression, graphic art, fashion and typography.
What I consider fundamental is a dim painting The Tape (2009) for its simple composition and a certain detached point of view. As if Lenka denominated something important marking it on the canvas: visibly, but only for herself. Silent and peaceful soft colour range and well observed winding-off of a common adhesive tape confirm the fact that everyday life without a comment apparatus is a powerful and straightforward aspect of Lenka Vítková’s paintings. The Second Tape (2011) is different: shiny, tight and colourful. The motif is similar, but the previous sentiment does not reoccur.
The Transparent Thing (2011) is a set of works under the mantle of metaphor, presented in a totally different way, probably less focused and heading the opposite direction. Vítková made all the wall paintings and small interventions – installations for the Goodbye Gallery in the unfinished hall of farewell at the cemetery in Volyně. Entering the gallery was like opening a book, looking at it but not reading, just watching the text, pages, one ore two almost imperceptible illustrations and then thinking about its soul.
I hope I have mentioned at least something essential about Lenka Vítková’s journey. A journey on which the latest series of paintings from 2011 to 2013 are being created: Firm and vigorous shapes rebound from its background. Ironically, the flatness deepens the space inside as well as outside the painting. The background plays no less delicate role than the shape – sign. The couple does not always have to be necessarily contrasting. The couple does not have to be a pair. There is the possibility of their communion, while both remain different.
Text by Katarína Uhlířová