New Gravity

The evolution of the creativity of Monika Žáková has an evolutionary and not a revolutionary characteristic – it does not contain coups de etat from day to day, but when we look at her work from the last five or six years there is a very distinct dynamic change while keeping the original constants which are being of interest to the author for a long time. It is, above all, the interest of the author to relationship between surface and space, the dialogue with logic of the material used and experimenting with the medium of painting. The Artist herself admits that originally she intended something more close to statues than painting, and her tendency to take into account the shape and the material more than color or signature. She in general devotes herself to the question of how to transform a plane surface into a three dimensional object.

The exhibition New Gravity II. freely ties to the artists last year presentation at the Industra Gallery in Brno, where Žáková presented a series of objects from zinced steel plates. This time the plates completely replaced paper with which the author is working most. The materials different in structure are being treated with similar techniques – twisting, breaking through, extending and compressing all while respecting their concrete characteristics like weight, height, thickness and volume, reflection of light rather than absorption and so on. In result both materials become undistinguishable on the first sight. But the metal can definitely hold shape, which the artist is getting born with her hands originally in the form of paper models being created spontaneously or by accident and so enable the artist to overcome the old schemes of her work.

The new work exhibited at Pragovka outreaches the forms presented at the Brno exhibition. The three biggest objects shown here elaborates on the motif of a grid or a cluster yet reaches even more complicated structures, which are witnesses of the ever present inner development in the different formats. In difference to the dynamical installation in Industra the artist decided this time to ordinately space the objects evoking the traditional principle of pandanus or diptych, triptych or pentaptych. The mathematically conceived single integers structure of the works so underlies their inner dynamic. The cold esthetics underlined by the dimmed colors on the scale of black, grey and white with tones of blue or green then perfectly corresponds with the industrial character of the exhibition space.

Yet Žáková is not after perfection and while working in the studio she allows for mistakes – she is primarily after the contact with the material and the necessary creative experience during the working on it. As she describes herself: “Different than the minimalists using industrial materials and prefabricates to demonstrate their own anonymity through their work, my point of reference is the hand work which brings with itself the imperfection and time consuming nature of the whole process. I am after the means by which the bodily expression and information is being anchored in the material. In this respect I am also after the relationship of time to the artistic work and the ongoing processes. The materials often express human and historical concepts of decay and decomposition which are qualities of the very presence and existence. It is a possibility of how to record the abstract notion of time and materialize its form.”

- Tereza Jindrová, 2019

From the series New Gravity II, 2019, paint on aluminium, dimensions variable

From the series New Gravity II, 2019, paint on aluminium, dimensions variable

Appearance

It’s growing. It’s growing vertically and horizontally. It’s growing and grooving. It’s groovingvertically and horizontally. It’s growing by grooving. It’s grooving by growing. Grooving gives rise to structure. A vertical and horizontal structure. An organic structure of relations, a structure of horizontal and vertical unity. It diversifies vertically. It diversifies into all levels of its essence. It gains its quality. That’s what makes it unique. That’s what gives it necessary stability. It diversifies horizontally. It diversifies into all aspects of its existence. It gains its quantity. That’s what enriches it. That’s what gives it necessary flexibility.” Such is the beginning of Bohumila Grögerová’s text included in the collection Meanders which was not published by a certain Czech publishing house in 1969 only to be published a year later in German translation and accompanied by four photograms by Běla Kolářová. Grögerová’s sentences could well describe the paper images by Monika Žáková. The visible grooves would merge with the imaginary ones, outlined by the artist’s personal anamnesis of her previous works which she picks up and develops, and so would biographical reverberations with the works of a variety of modern artists and the layers revealed during an archaeological research of the image surface in which material prevails over representation, which has always been material. The links with Kolářová are multiple, too. Although Žáková’s images are not photographic, they resemble the photograms due to the production process, the work of touching, the use of light as a construction unit. We could try and seek a term to capture the method of Monika Žáková, since the methodical character of her approach is very clear. Žáková relates to modernism and especially the 1960s which seem to position themselves perpendicularly to the historical axis as if they were still contemporary. The historical register of methods offers crumplages created by Jiří Kolář, however, this time they would be different, more

thorough, more careful, more elaborate, or the froasages by Ladislav Novák, however, this time without residual, recurrent pictoriality. In an allusion to Grögerová and Jiří and Běla Kolář, we could opt for visual poetry if it were able to free itself from itself; like a subjectless poem, a non-poem that can do without words and can never fully imitate the arrangement of verses, when paper gives up its edges and doubts the surface in its folds; like blank sheets of paper whose rectangular formats repeat themselves on the studio walls, the canvas frames and their photographic reproductions, in all shades of white. We could also consider derealization if it could assume a more complex comprehension of reality than that described by Kolář as too simple. It would be a derealization preceding realization, realization by derealization, de-derealization. Žáková’s monochromes are not disturbed from the outside, by splashes of colour, the point of a pencil, the blade of a knife, but rather from the inside: they diversify and multiply by grooving. They remind of grids which, according to Rosalind Krauss, proved the will to silence and hostility to literature, narrative, discourse in modernist painting. The grids of Monika Žáková both capture and release – the look as well as meaning. Signs emerge and escape at the same time. We cannot quite speak about their content, and we would do justice to their form if we could be silent about it.

 - Vojtěch Märc, 2018

Installation view at Lucie Drdova Gallery, 2018

Installation view at Lucie Drdova Gallery, 2018