Dílna Mikulov - Art symposium
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This year, the 4th year of the Art Symposium entitled „dílna 97“ took place in Mikulov. It is organized by the local town hall and the Regional Museum in Mikulov. A beautiful town on the Austrian border, better known perhaps as a centre of the wine-making art, became for a short time a centre of contemporary visual art. The Mikulov Art Symposium „dílna“ was established in 1994 by the sculptor Nikos Armutidis and the painter Libor Lípa. Since then, 15 mainly Czech artists have come here. Among the most frequent participants are Jaroslav Róna and Stefan Milkov – both have been here three times, while Petr Jareš, Čestmír Suška, Zdeněk Lhotský and Martina Riedelbauchová came twice. Both founders, together with Jindřich Štreit, Rostislav Čuřík, Karl Heinz Bethmann, Veronika Richterová participated once, as well as the new participants of this year – Michal Gabriel, František Skála and Eva Vones. All artifacts created at the Symposium – be it paintings, works of graphic art, and sculptures – become the property of the town of Mikulov. Permanent exhibition in the garden and inside the chateau of Mikulov witness the manifold activities of the participants. A pre-arranged system of invitations determines the participants of each year – one of the participants of the past year's Symposiums becomes the curator of the new year. The range of invitees changes slowly and remains within the circle of people who know and like each other. This system has advantages as well as weaknesses – it guarantees certain continuity and similarity of approaches to art on one hand but on the other it makes the Symposium inaccessible to a number of artists with different artistic attitudes which limits the artistic insight into the current visual arts scene. Just like every summer, this year the Symposium ended with an exhibition – a public two-day programme in the Chateau garden where participating artists – Michal Gabriel, Petr Jareš, Jaroslav Róna, František Skála, this year's curator Čestmír Suška, Eva Vones and Martina Riedlbauchová – were presented together with various local and guest music and drama ensembles. Perhaps the only weak point of this festive exhibition was a complete lack of visitors from nearby Austria; given the geographical location of Mikulov as well as the current exchange rate, this totally escapes understanding. It seems therefore that there is a lot to improve. The highlight of the four-year existence of the Symposium was the autumn exhibition of selected works from Mikulov in the hall under Plečnik's Staircase in the Paradise Garden of Prague Castle.

PhDr. Pavel Liška.
Director of the Brno House of Arts

The Mikulov Art Symposiums are not limited by any technique or theme but it so happened that they have distinguished themselves as sculpture symposiums in the first four years. Gradually, and repeatedly, nearly all the Stubborn sculptors have worked here setting the standard rather high for the results of the Symposiums. They created works in Mikulov which can stand up to the context of their entire previous work. This does not happen often at symposiums, similar encounters have more of a reputation of social events than that of creative ones. In Mikulov, there is plenty of both – and hence the question: why here? One possible answer has to do with the quality of the participants. To put it simple – as long as you are clear about what you want to do, you no longer search but find. And it should be noted that being in Mikulov is „fine and nice“ as it is a town with certain magic, genius loci, that has formed there for centuries and even today in the form of energy rendered to it by the people who live there. If that energy was visible, the town and the chateau would shine like a giant light bulb in the last four years. All who have been to the Symposium in the last four years agree that a special protective atmosphere forms here during the four weeks which is favourable for work on something as impractical as a work of art. Artists meet here tuned at the same wave length: no fast oscillation of current tendencies but rather art as gradual fashioning of mass into shape may it result in a statue, painting or a graphic sheet. Hand work as an absurd back motion against the ever faster stream. Nothing instant that is done quickly and is designed for immediate consumption. In Mikulov, people work on things so that they last. As the reputation of the Mikulov symposiums grows, grow also the deimensions of the statues created there. Especially last year, some pieces were created here which exceed „gallery“ dimensions and belong more likely to the urban or landscape environment where they would be compared to architecture or freely growing trees. After such a start, maintaining the coherence of the attitude as well as the artistic qualities will not be easy. The works created at the Symposium remain int he property of the town which gradually acquires a nice, comprehensive collection of contemporary art. The Mikulov chateau has an opportunity to establish itself among Czech gallery institutions, and that is a great obligation. If Mikulov keeps the energy that has been there until now, we need not worry about the fate of the collection and its expansion.

PhDr. Jana Tichá