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Exhibitions

T O M Á Š B Á R T A


T H I N G S T O K N O W B E F O R E Y O U G E T A T A T T O O


curator: Jiří Ptáček


16. 12. 2014 - 23. 12. 2015.


Just as the ideologies of the recent past gradually lose their tangible form, this of course does not mean that they will not remain a shapeless part of the collective memory. A memory that continues to freely express itself in various spheres of individual and social life. On a symbolic and physical level, architecture and socialist art are going through a similar process. Young Czech painter, Tomáš Bárta (1982), has directed his attention to this dimension of reality; one from which concreteness fades and where a poorly understood shape takes its place – not just in a passive way, but on the contrary still active in the corners of our mind we have no control over. 


We consider 1958 one of the milestones in Czechoslovakia’s cultural history. It was then that artists at the World Expo, EXPO 58, were able to promote a style that drew openly from modernism. Its acknowledgment in the form of a large number of exhibition awards expedited a shift in the official course in the areas of architecture, fine arts, design and other disciplines. The Stalinist doctrine of Soviet Realism had been fully rejected and "Brussels" took on the dominant position. The latter expressed the dynamic of society’s lifestyle through more expressive stylization, abstract geometric decorative style, etc. The gradual popularization of "Brussels" is still today evidenced by the artistic and artisanal works from that time; as well as the numerous resulting works by amateur builders and decorators. Therein you can observe the subsiding of the style after several subsequent decades. It lost its attractiveness, logically, at the start of the 1990s. However, it is preserved still today in its original form and in all sorts of mutilated forms mainly in suburbs.


In conjunction with the work of young, Czech artist, Tomáš Bárta (1982), we recall the extraordinary radiation of "Brussels" mainly due to the character of its inspirational sources. Bárta belongs to a visible group of Czech painters, who once again sought an abstractly constructive morphology. Even though each of them (the sources) explores a slightly different area, it holds for all that he works with them due to their potential to activate various components of our collective memory. They are not concerned here with abstraction without attributes but rather with the associative content that they carry inside them. For a long time the urban landscape inspired Tomáš Bárta; respectively its elements that are created within: beyond the scope of urban planning, i.e. as additional accessories. These can also remain in them (the elements) as the residue of older structures. His interest in relaying them visually through the painted medium naturally led Tomáš Bárta to a constructive artistic language with traces of repairs, local patches and penetration into the bottom/lower layers of painting. This is how it is with his recent works. These are his most formally reduced paintings so far; with very clear composition. The planned relationships between the elementary features are of course typically arranged; with local explorations of the roughly carried out sub-paintings (undercoats), or possibly of pencil sketches that can bring to mind the traditional disegno – however moved here to the surface of the painting. The aesthetic of these images is roughly guided by the conventions of 20th century abstract painting. Tomáš Bárta's stance on the past is not of course primarily philosophically speculative. It draws from direct experience with their residue. For him the physical-material degradation and crude restorative interventions are fascinating phenomena.


The present past is reflected in his new objects in the same way. Their free templates are neglected public plastic works from the era of socialist construction, which through their gradual degradation distract from their original content and ideological cores. The degree of their abstraction then grows in direct proportion. However, just as the ideology itself lost its tangible form, this of course does not mean that it did not remain a shapeless part of the collective memory. A memory that continues to freely express itself in various spheres of individual and social life. On a symbolic and physical level, architecture and art from the socialist era are going through a similar process.


Tomáš Bárta has directed his attention to this dimension of reality; one from which concreteness fades and where a poorly understood shape takes its place – not just in a passive way, but on the contrary still active in the corners of our mind we have no control over.


Tomáš Bárta is an artist living and working in Prague, his finished his studies at FAVU (Faculty of Fine Arts Brno) in 2009. He won the Walter Koschatzky Award in 2011, in this occasion he exhibited in MUMOK Albertina, Vienna and got into the collection of the renowned museum and he got the Czech Critics Prize for Young Painters in 2012. He represened his works in Fait Gallery, Brno and in Gallery Down, Ostrava. He has several works in public collections internationally.


Jiří Ptáček, the author is an art critic and curator at the Fotograf Gallery in Prague. He worked with Tomáš Bárta on the exhibitions: Sometimes, in the Instant of a Sort of Flash, I Wake Up and Turn toward My Fall (Galerie Dole, Ostrava, CZ, 2013) and Things You Can´t Delete (Fait Gallery, Brno, CZ, 2013).