BonArt, z.s.

Out of the Circle

Exhibition of Czech, Slovak and American performance art, experimental photographs and videos by Andy Warhol, Bruce Nauman, Vladimír Havrilla, Jiří Kovanda.

The exhibition Out of the Circle introduces two artists from the former Czechoslovakia: the Czech artist Jiri Kovanda, (1953) and Slovak artist Vladimir Havrilla, (1943) both belong to the artistic underground of the 1970s and 1980s. Their work is presented together with video pieces from the 1960s by Andy Warhol and Bruce Nauman.

While Kovanda and Havrilla produced their work on the other side of the iron curtain, that in the seventies and eighties hermetically divided Europe, both artists were strongly influenced by the conceptual thought that at the time dominated discourse in the western art world.  Their performances and interventions reveal tension characteristic for the time of socialist culture when fresh tendencies in the visual arts were considered unacceptable.

Jiri Kovanda is a self-made man, which can be seen in his reluctance to conform to set rules. His photographs are still-lives arranged with a special existential minimalism in a city environment, his apartment or in anonymous contemporary architecture. A small pile of sugar (or salt?) placed on the wall of the Charles Bridge hardly noticeable to passers-by, the tension created by a rope stretched across his room or his performance when he is standing on the subway escalator backwards in the opposite direction of the crowd.

Vladimir Havrilla is originally a sculptor. In 1970 he bought a camera and like Andy Warhol he started making experimental films. He also created small objects and sketches that he photographed in his apartment, which was his studio as well. Havrilla’s work could be characterized as appropriation art quoting mainly American artists such as Pollock, Lichtenstein or Nauman. Havrilla uses their contemporary visual language to create emblematic motifs, as for example in his piece The Corner Man who becomes invisible in the corner of the room, or a sculpture that creates abstract expressionism (Pollock) with the means of water and light.

Out of the Circle presents photographs by Kovanda and Havrilla, along with videos from the 1960s by two Americans; Andy Warhol and Bruce Nauman. Warhol as the father of pop-art, with his experimental films, opened the door for many artists working with performance and new image perception both in America and Europe. The works of Nauman and Serra reflect the tragically perceived image of man in the contemporary world. The connection of these works with Kovanda and Havrilla show the remarkable visual and inner coherence of these artists, despite the political systems and the iron curtain that separated them.

České centrum New York