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Theoretician of the Year

Esprit Vacuum – Essence : Milena Dopitová, Irena Jůzová, František Kowolowski, Petr Lysáček, Petr Písařík, Tereza Velíková, Michaela Vrbková, guest Kamila Rýparová

This year, the Mikulov Art Symposium was held for the 17th time. Curator Milena Dopitová chose the authors from significant personalities of the Czech art scene. She picked four of them herself; another three were appointed by the symposium’s expert council. Just like in the previous years, the event this year also raised certain expectations. The Mikulov Art Symposium is to a great extent influenced by the genius loci of the place where the artists work over the period of one month. Sometimes it even appears that is determines the creation of the work itself to such an extent that any other conceptual expressions are nearly impossible. The structure and the “potency” of the given year mainly depend on the curator who picks the authors. This strategy can also bring errors but I think that the Mikulov Art Symposium has throughout its history always managed to reach good and unique quality. When the symposium’s continuity also follows the individual view of the curator, it makes sense to attempt such discourse within contemporary art. The aim is not only to determine the quality of the works of art but also to create an open and inspiring collection that should present the points of view of the individual authors within the space and time qualities of the place. The collection will not be dead but rather an emotion-inspiring “organism”. It will then transcend its regional embedment.
Milena Dopitová attempted to reverse this paradigm of determination and with her curatorial authority she prompted the authors to convey their thematic testimony. Emotionality rid of strict calculations of the language of art and giving in to pure, non-speculative manifestations enabled her to offer a “binding” concept. Esprit as a certain charge, uniqueness and a state of mind, enchanted by and anchored in the vacuum of the given site, clearly defined the individual attitudes of the artists – their essences. An entirely spontaneous concept of impulses emerged, related to the environment, situations, colours, smells and other ongoing relations. This contextualization proved to be a fundamental model of expression. In her photographic series of portraits of the symposium’s participants, Milena Dopitová expressed the reversible significance of the portrait for the state of mind. The portrayed, hanging upside down, overcome certain physical and mental “non-determination”. As if she showed the limitations of the portrait, along with its possibilities. Another project by Milena Dopitová, entitled “The Soul of the Rose”, worked with discovered objects, with the situation and its emotions. These photographs relate to seeking the caducity of shapes, the uniqueness and essence of the reflections of the colourful light esprit of fallen-off rose petals. The works defines a difficult-to-grasp whole through memory. She used a similar principle in her objects that are playful yet analytic representations of these impulses (“The Soul of the Rose”, “Next Time at Your Place”).
Irena Jůzová created objects – installations that interactively show the recording of imprints of the bodies of the symposium’s participants. She named her piece “We Like Them More Than Gems, They Are Dearer To Us Than Gold”. Through intermediality, the relation between various materials and the photographic documentation of the imprinting, the author created a structured work in which time turns into an unchanging, almost sculpture-like act.
František Kowolowski mainly works with performance, painting and installation. In Mikulov, he created photographs of interventions in the environment of eh chateau. Their slightly ironic undertones (“Catch 22”, Vacuum”, “Bouquet”) define the principles of the transformation of fleshliness into an object. Large cast canvasses point to the substance of colour areas in their relation to the very process of painting. The author does not “paint” the pictures; he merely creates room for the procedural fulfilment.
Petr Lysáček entitled his work “Still Alive”. He submerged into a simple concept in which he recorded important world personalities who died during the period of the symposium. In the end, the author resigned to rendering the portraits of the deceased but focused on recording an abstract and material form. These formats then convincingly expressed certain emotional essence. Playfulness and irony is acceptable even in the matter of death. Petr Lysáček deals with the transmutation of the negative into the positive.
The essence of Petr Písařík can be described as the absolute principle of creation, as examining the possibilities of forms and shades in the image area. These are inconspicuous interventions (usually monochromatic white compositions) that verify the relation between reality, image and their representation. Petr Písařík is of a totally spontaneous character and therefore worked with large series of floral motifs. His paintings always show certain tension between the real and the abstract. He thus reached an ability to see through these models, to head further on towards the space, towards the object.
The most sophisticated conceptual work of this year’s symposium was a piece by Tereza Velíková entitled “I Moved My Room, Nobody Was Living There Anyway”. It was a photographic depiction of the installation of a room inside the Mikulov chateau, with free associations. The purposes of the depicted object (drawers, paintings, shelves) change their real appearances, their usual arrangements. Through this work, the author questions the meaning of keeping emotions and memories with the help of photography. It’s a real memory of its bearer which is based on illusions.
The assistance of the 2010 symposium was Michaela Vrbková, a student at the Arts Faculty of Brno’s Technical University. She worked on small and large canvases with rigidly structured horizontal and vertical poché she arranged into geometrical shapes. Thus she achieves an expressive image area that is formally coded. She draws inspiration from her own environment, from her surroundings closely linked to her personality.
The Mikulov Art Symposium does not usually have guests. This year, however, the symposium had one – Kamila Rýparová, a student at the Arts Faculty of Ostrava University. At the concluding exhibition, she presented small formats showing views of kitchens with very strong minimalistic and linear form. She does not create her images with classic technical procedures but fiercely employs the technique of burning, which creates strong content tension.
This year’s Mikulov Art Symposium showed certain possible resources in defining those very unsure events that symposiums usually are. I hope that next year, the esprit will be further developed. I wish next Mikulov Art Symposium as much powerful and concentrated outcome as we had this year.

František Kowolowski
Symposium participant, visual artist, teacher and curator