Kicking off the new exhibition
Start up IV
For its fourt annual edition, Start up is moving its venue to the Colloredo-Mansfeld Palace
which will host a total of five of the project’s exhibitions. Along with several flagship exhibitions curated by Monika Doležalová, the series will newly include projects mounted by young curators whose presentations will thus be linked with the individual shows. The exhibitions of project’s fourth edition will be visually designed by young students of graphic design.
WORSTSELLER / Tomáš Roubal
17/1 — 16/2, 2014 City Gallery Prague, Colloredo-Mansfeld Palace
curated by myself
curator of the supplementary exhibition: Jan Kratochvil
graphic design: Marek Ehrenberger
Tomáš Roubal (b. in Prostějov, in 1982) is a printmaker and draughtsman of peculiar, often perhaps haunting figure scenes on political and social themes. “It is very much like a black box containing things before which we tend to shut our eyes, themes we are unwilling to discuss, preferring to pretend such problems do not exist,” says Tomáš about his works. His monochrome pictures comment on contemporary society, political propaganda, the Catholic church, and the aesthetics of mass-production culture. He seeks out elements of blatant stupidity in human behaviour, and passes his findings on, in the form of satirical sketches, or at times merely as condensed messages or phrasal constructions rendered for instance in the form of tattoos on animal skin.
He creates stories with plots wherein oddity is combined with historical facts, personal experiences and reality, but where at the same time everything is influenced by the irony of fate. In the light of this, it may seem somewhat surprising that his Black Book (practically textless), featuring provocative scenes out of what he himself terms “the blacklist of wrongs” (including e.g. the portrayal of an artist performing oral sex on a curator), earned him the 2012 Most Beautiful Book of the Year award from the Czech Ministry of Culture, in the highly prestigious category of fiction. The book inveighs against the ills of capitalism, the loss of the human sense of solidarity, as well as against the condition of the current Czech art scene. The reality he depicts is at once terrifying and ridiculous, and yet it is familiar enough for everyone to realize at once what exactly Tomáš had in mind in each particular work.
In his contribution to the Start up IV project, Tomáš presents large-scale paintings following up to his earlier street-art realizations, as well as smaller-scale objects reflecting obscene sexist references in commercial advertisement and media. These include most notably examples of thoroughly senseless exploitation of nudity, the likes of “One Half Will Do for PVC Windows”, with a picture of stuck bare buttocks, or a commercial spot entitled “Enjoy Your First Banking Contact” (the expression being synonymous with “intercourse” in Czech). In an ironic parallel, Tomáš purports to market his Worstsellers on view here.
Tomáš Roubal graduated from the department of printmaking, class of Prof. Róbert Jančovič,
at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava, in 2008.
For mounting an additional exhibition, I addressed a young art theoretician and curator, Jan Kratochvil (b. in Brno, 1986). He is a recent graduate of the Department of Art History at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, and contributes to the magazine A2 and to the web site specializing in art, artalk.cz. Since 2012, he has teamed up with artist Jana Bernatová as curator for the gallery Kvalitář, where he has engaged in projects combining gallery art with design and architecture. To Jan, working as a curator in a creative tandem has been a long-time preference: while still a student, he mounted several exhibitions together with art historian and curator Tereza Jindrová (including e.g. the exhibitions Abuse, for Dům umění města Brna, 2012, or RED8, for UM gallery, 2013).
Inspired by Tomáš Roubal´s critical reasoning, Jan has prepared for the exhibition Worstseller an architectural entrance: a kind of corridor which, coupled with the media monitoring display of the workings of the Colloredo-Mansfeld Palace, comments on the venue´s reconstruction and functioning, as well as on the new concept of the Start up project. Describing his concept, Jan says: “While Tomáš Roubal relates in his work to the general socio-political context of this country, I personally, given my attitude of an individual living in a more or less voluntary state of seclusion within the world of art, have chosen to apply here a corresponding model of reasoning, thereby responding to the most immediate institutional framework of the current exhibition, that is, the workings of the Colloredo-Mansfeld Palace. There, I have used technological elements with a view to closing off, and thereby eliminating, the space reserved by the curator, Monika Doležalová, for my participation in the show. All that remains of it is a narrow passage resembling safety corridors known from construction sites. I have furnished this residue of what was originally an exhibition room with relevant documentation, supplemented by a visual presentation of Marek Ehrenberger and Tomáš´s own direct reactions to the themes under discussion.”