Dílna Mikulov - Art symposium
Home > Title page > Dílna > Previous Years > Year 2004 > Theoretician of the Year

Mikulov is a miraculous place, endowed with charming nature, delicious wine and beautiful monuments. It could seem enough for satisfaction of local inhabitants and tourists. Surprisingly (and fortunately), it came out that more was required - every generation needs to imprint the marks of its existence in "its" present times. It needs to show that though everybody is formed by the environment they live in, they need to try to convert it to their image. The higher quality of the image is, the better result there will be.
In a friendly and slightly euphoric atmosphere, which is surely given by the local unrepeatable genius loci facilitating planning and dreaming, the Mikulov Art Symposium was established several years ago. It has survived the traps of young projects, which are based primarily on enthusiasm of the organizers. Gradually, it has been transformed in a self-confident event with great international ambitions.
Last year, the Mikulov Art Symposium (MVS) "dílna" (the workshop) celebrated the tenth year of its existence. The organizers took advantage of this jubilee to enrich the Symposium with new ideas and impulses, which were reflected in the nature of this year's eleventh annual event.
Despite all changes (proposed, rejected, discussed and gradually implemented ones), certain basic idea has been preserved. One of the "new" ambitions of the Symposium, which was successfully realized in this year's event, is the fact that the event shall be as open as possible, including foreign participation. The new system will be fully implemented from the 12th annual MVS. It shall be noted that it was not necessary to reform everything; on the contrary, many things need to be preserved and supported. The functioning Advisory Committee consisting of the Regional Museum in Mikulov, the town of Mikulov and the traditional guarantors of MVS will keep working with the support of the newly established Expert Council of MVS. A significant feature of the Symposium, due to which we have to regard highly the foresight of the organizers again and again, is that they designed the workshops so that a significant majority of the works created during the symposia could remain in the property of the town of Mikulov. This high duality collection has been housed and, since 2000, also partially exhibited in the Mikulov Chateau, where there is a seat of the Museum, as an independent part of the permanent exposition, which is one of the few exhibitions dedicated to contemporary art in our country. Several largescale sculptures have also found their place in the area of the chateau park. Now the Museum takes care of over 200 pieces (paintings, photographs, sculptures, etc.) made by many significant Czech artists like Petr Nikl, Viktor Pivovarov, Dalibor Chatrný or Milan Kunc, to name just a few.
Let us return to the prepared changes. On the occasion of presentation of the catalogue of the last year's tenth annual event, a new logo (Mikulov Art Symposium) was introduced. It was created by Libor Lípa. At the beginning of this year, the Symposium organizers initiated the foundation of the Expert Council of the Symposium. The Council membership was accepted by a number of personalities from the art world as well as from business, etc. While preserving the curator system as the major specific feature of MVS, the objective of its activities is to assist the Symposium in finding contacts and promotion and also in processing the created collection professionally. In the first meeting, the Council members agreed that the selection of participants should be as open as possible, including foreign artists. It will be the best for achieving the objective of the Symposium that is based on the exchange of experience and different art sources from various social and cultural areas.

Participation in this year's eleventh MVS was accepted by 6 artists. The curator was Margita Titlová Ylovsky (1957, Prague, Czech Republic, artist, author of objects and installations). The other participants were Václav Stratil (1950, Brno, Czech Republic, artist, conceptual artist), Vladimír Merta (1957, Prague, Czech Republic, artist, author of installations), Woody Vasulka (1937, USA, multimedia artist), Jeff Chiplis (1952, USA, sculptor, author of installations) and student Libor Novotný (1979, Železný Brod, Czech Republic), who co-operated as a technical assistant. Though they are solitary, prominent author's personalities, we can see some shared features in the works created during the Symposium. Contrary to the previous annual events, when the experience from the Mikulov environment was reflected in the resulting works more prominently, this year's participants were obviously inspired by contemporary civilization and technology in particular.
The world of experimental video is symptomatic for the works of a famous native of Brno, who lives in USA, Woody Vasulka. In the nineties, he also worked at the Faculty of Arts of VUT in Brno. In the last years, Vasulka has been engaged in graphics based on TV pictures. He uses a computer to deform TV pictures or designs floating ephemeral 3D structures with the use of several multimedia processes as if capturing a secret life of digital media. The topic of broadcasting the TV signal, but in the form of a classic hang-on picture, is also processed by Vladimír Merta. Trivial "shots" (standing dog, girl's face) are enlarged with respect to the normal screen, as if capturing the broadcasting of the signal itself, and the unreality of the picture is enhanced by unreal colours.
Colour light is the major shaping element of works of Jeff Chiplis, who "recycles" old neon items from various ads, lights, etc. in his sculptures and installations. He uses these remnants of lights from big cities to create bizarre and slightly ironic monuments; fragments of letters compose non-sense suggestions of words as if characterising the chaos of this age.
As an opposite pole to the technical world, the Symposium curator, Margita Titlová Ylovsky, created a work following her cycle Garden of Visions, which had been presented in Prague in the passage of the Czech National Bank. With the use of various art techniques, stylish flowers, birds or shapes of a human figure are painted on large transparent foils - the basic essence of our existence is expressed in the form of a simple, expressively colourful sign. Further on, freely suspended foils bring dynamics in the resulting impression from the work and, at the same time, they enable the viewers to enter their own work and become its part for a while.
Summer cosiness in Mikulov was exploited by Václav Stratil, a controversial artist, who is engaged in creating cartoons and humorous erotic topics in addition to many other art activities; he created a painting from the cycle Penis art. Sharply yellow figure liftink up his extraordinarily large genitals managed to storm normally calm waters accompanying this year's MVS, as it caused an up-set response of some citizens of Mikulov. That is why another Stratil´s work, a remarkable cubistic self-portrait, missed greater attention.
This year, Libor Novotný, a student of the Institute for Art Studies in Ostrava, was invited as a technical assistant. He studies in the studio of free graphic under the guidance of prof. Eduard Ovčáček. In Mikulov, he worked with large-sized white paper, which was given the nature of a subtle relief after a thoughtful cutting and gentle elevating or suppressing of some areas.
I think the Symposium has deeply rooted in human hearts. I do not only mean participants and organizers but also local citizens and tourists, who do not only come to Mikulov to enjoy nature, sights and wine, but also (or perhaps mainly) modern art. And if you agree with the saying in vino veritas, we can boldly declare that the really true and honest art is formed in Mikulov mainly for love.

Helena Musilová
Curator of the Collection of Contemporary Art of the National Gallery in Prague