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Metaplay, Prague – New York

December 14, 2014
Title: Metaplay, Prague – New YorkVenue: Czech Center New York / New YorkCategory: ExhibitionDate: 12.10.2014 - 01.20.2015Time: 14.00 hDescription: Metaplay, Prague – New York METAPLAY, PRAGUE – NEW YORK features Czech and American painters, who are applying the various possibilities of today’s abstract expression in to their work. They use metaplay, as a metaphor for play within play, a story within a story, not only to generate paintings and objects from virtual reality but also to create new paintings of a deconstruction, i.e. anti-illusive type. Through the confrontation of informative metadata with the sensual experiences of reality, including the virtual one, their paintings tautologically and semantically explain themselves in a methodical way. By introducing the playful elements (inter-play) into the creative process with an interesting visual outcome all of these paintings offer us not only new sensual experiences but also a new cognition of art. Exhibition featuring Czech and American abstract painters: Liz Ainslie, Nils Folke Anderson, Jana Bernartová, Patricie Fexova, Mark Masyga, Josef Mladějovský, Evžen Šimera, Ryan Russo. In collaboration with The Association of Czech Art Critics and The Gallery of Art Critics. Exhibition opening: Wednesday, December 10, 6:30PM-8:30PM Open through January 20, 2015 The title of the exhibition – Metaplay – belongs to the world of virtual reality. It was first introduced by Myron Krueger in the early 1970’s within the concept of videoplace. Later, it was used in computer games. We have applied it for an exhibition of abstract paintings first held in the Gallery of Art Critics in 2012. It was used as a metaphore for play within play, story within story, as per its original meaning. From a conceptual point of view, this term was fundamental – it emphasized the principle of appropriation of certain methodical procedures or conceptions taken from art history, or of a section of visual reality. It also drew attention to the extinction of the closed systems of thought in art and their updated deconstruction. It also incorporated the possibility of interconnection of various techniques in the sense of intermediality and put emphasis on the interactive communication with the viewer. The participants of the exhibition, which was held within the context of the Prize of Art Critique for Young Painting, were Tomáš Bárta, Jana Bernartová, Patricie Fexová, David Hanvald, Josef Mladějovský, Evžen Šimera and Karel Štědrý. Vlasta Čiháková Noshiro and Karel Babíček were the curators of this exhibition. The Metaplay exhibition was so stimulating that a confrontation with foreign opinions was required. In cooperation with The Anita Shapolsky Gallery (AS Art Foundation) and curator Petra Valentová in New York, four young American artists, whose opinions correspond with those of the selected Czech authors, were invited, though their work retains its own originality and creative specifics. Together with the four Czech artists they present a remarkable confrontational team following up the various possibilities of today’s abstract expression. While an analytical approach to the conceptions of painting throughout art history, especially with regard to the methodological and technical expression is common to the works of the Czech artists - Jana Bernartová, Patricie Fexová, Josef Mladějovský a Evžen Šimera, the American authors - Liz Ainslie, Nils Folke Anderson, Mark Masyga, Ryan Russo – besides sharing a consciousness of the local tradition of abstractionism, are connected upon their interest in a visual reality of society, using motifs from informatics, design and architecture. Since 1982, The Anita Shapolsky Gallery has focused on the development of American painting from the times of abstract expressionism up to present-day young generation, also including artists from Latin America. Probably the most classical abstract expression can be seen in Liz Aislie’s works which relate to the perception of certain experiences in the landscape. Here, a significant role is given to the psychological and spiritual experience transforming specific features of a landscape into surreal abstract compositions. Through separation of pure colors and their intuitive manipulation in the picture, the artist expresses spatial relationships within the landscape including its optical illusiveness. Her conception is based on Joseph Albers’ teaching on color interaction which deals with the influence of colors on the human mind and the analysis of their effect and perception within space. Ryan Russo based his visual expression on a combination of drawing, painting and digital collage. He draws inspiration from letters and figural elements in commercials, commercial packaging, internet and the informatics of life environment. He deconstructs their medial meaning and pulls them out from their informational context, creating visual material for new abstract configurations from their fragments. Nils Folke Anderson and Mark Masyga are both painters and sculptors – the former tends to actively create the environment through abstract work based on the concept of “reciprocal linkage” of the same elements interconnected in surface or space.  In his pictures, squares and rectangles are layered to form colorful geometric compositions and the elements in spatial objects, for example composed of neon tubes, are allowed to penetrate each other with an emphasis on their light and architectural effect. The latter artist based his aesthetics on nostalgia of ruins, arising from destruction following natural diseasters, deterioration of buildings as well as artificial demolitions. He says the ruins of an old temple evoke the same mixed emotions as an old woman with only one tooth. Ruins, in his interpretation, represent an utopia, working in the opposite direction to progress and stopping the accelerating information flow in time so that the local becomes global and vice versa. Among the Czech authors, Josef Mladějovský is probably the one whose works are closest to the image of classical abstract composition. However, he works with the untraditional conception of geometric morphology. He has created an alphabet of morphological elements to generate the structures and titles of his works both in two and three dimensions. His aim is to visually deconstruct the “truth” which had represented an absolute semantic value in the days of the utopia of modern systems and ideological –isms, esp. constructivism.  His plastic foam towers subtitled “I am ugly” (from the Komplex series) are derived from the alphabet of the elements complex paraphrasing e.g. Vladimir Tatlin’s steel, iron and glass monuments from the 1920’s, in a lighter manner through his choice of material. On the other hand, Evžen Šimera deals with the line expression in classical wall pictures using his original method of drops flowing down on the canvas. In the painting called Vertikal Horizontal he presented two different styles of linear hatching depending on the specific position of the canvas and on gravity. Drops flowing down vertically have formed lines while those flowing horizontally have merged to create expressive stains. In the case of two paintings called Gravitational Obstacles the drops were reduced in lines with the help of wooden objects placed on the canvas surface. After a series of paintings called Abstract Comics which gave the act of painting independence in brushstroke stories, Patricie Fexová followed with a series of Autportraits, painted from specific models and considering each brushstroke to be an individual autonomous task of painting. In her latest series, called Features, she analyses portraits on the verge of abstraction. She is interested in the moments, when several stains start to depict a face, or when a face still hasn’t stopped evoking a composition of stains. The artist takes an interest in the process of introducing resemblance to the portrait. When she can see a hint of it, her painting ends. Jana Bernartová constantly focuses on digital images and on generating their optical forms through examining the alternatives to classical painting. In her cycle, Cities 2004-2014, she has used the principles of construction and deconstruction as her main theme. The basic module of a geometric composition – a narrow rectangle - is being composed and carefully positioned to fill up the whole square of the canvas field. By using pre-defined operations such as multiplication and rotation she also partially promotes the randomness principle. The series of originally monochromatic paintings has gradually acquired colorful solutions. Strong colors are in contrast with the scale of neutral gray hues. All of the exhibition artists have applied metaplay not only to generate paintings and objects from the virtual reality but also to create new paintings of a deconstructional, i.e. anti-illusive type. Through the confrontation of informative metadata with the sensual experiences of reality, including the virtual one, their paintings tautologically and semantically explain themselves in a methodical way. They do the maximum possible to make clear to the viewers what has been originally conceptually concealed to them, what is to be re-interpreted, and what has not been directly accessible to them. By introducing the playful elements (inter-play) into the creative process with an interesting visual outcome all of these paintings offer us not only new sensual experience but also a new cognition of art. The exhibition Metaplay, Prague – New York is held in conceptual and production cooperation with curator Petra Valentová, who is an executive artist herself and who has picked the American authors and their works. The exhibition space in New York is provided by the Czech Center. The number of the selected Czech artists and their works was reduced due to the space potential of both of the two galleries. ~Vlasta Čiháková Noshiro