Česká centra, Czech Centres

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Sep 22, 2011 6:30 PM - Nov 2, 2011


EXHIBITION. Opening: Thursday, September 22, 6:30-8:30PM. Open through November 2. Vasil Artamonov & Alexey Klyuykov - Winners of the 2010 Chalupecky Award.

The work of Vasil Artamonov and Alexey Klyuykov often deals with traumas related to the history of leftist politics and political art in the 20th century Europe. Typically, they approach the events and problems represented with a mixture of fidelity and ironic distance.

If the visitors of the "Socialism" exhibition expect works with an open political message, they will be disappointed. This was also the case of the recent Godard's film, which was a source of inspiration for the artists' choice of the title. It is clear, however, that under such a heading even the most abstract and formalist art gains political significance.

On their arrival to New York, the artists were overwhelmed by the amount of garbage in the streets. Out of the trash they built enigmatic objects: an empty book, a coat of arms devoid of reference, a graph-like object. The use of the cheap material alludes to the politically charged arte povera tradition that had nevertheless failed to resist the omnipresent commodification.

The exhibition presents a set of ambiguous signs determined by the authoritative title that seems to provide orientation. Yet it is not clear which socialism in particular is on the authors' mind. The title eventually emerges as vague and, in a vicious circle, seems to refer us back to the vacuous signs. Are we promised that socialism of the future is open to any form we give it? What would happen if the exhibition's title was "Capitalism"?

Jindrich Chalupecky Award
Initiated by playwright Vaclav Havel, poet and artist Jiri Kolar, and artist Theodor Pistek, the Jindrich Chalupecky Award was first presented in 1990 and envisioned as an annual award. The award was named to honor the philosopher, art and literary critic Jindrich Chalupecky for his lifetime achievements and unwavering position in promoting freedom of thought and expression as the pre-requisite for the existence of art.

The Award has been presented to an artist up to 35 years old in an open and transparent competition process every year since its inception. The Jindrich Chalupecky Society, a civic association was founded to manage the annual competition. The finalists and the winner are selected by an expert jury, whose members are appointed for a period of two years.



Alexey Klyuykov(1983) and Vasil Artamonov(1980) are russian artists living in Prague. They realize multi-component installations, mixing various media, combining sculpture, painting, object and photography.

Constructions created by them often become geometrical variation, they arise on the basis of everyday belongings, as an effect of their fragmentation and physical disintegration. Klyuykov and Artamonov deconstruct ordinary objects as furniture, stretcher bars or floor boards to build new forms of them. Relation between whole and fragment is the keynote of their many realizations, new organization of space and object becomes something possible and physically real. Geometrical, minimalist spatial forms, installations composed of straight lines or abstract graffiti on railway cars induce to seeking for distant relation with abstractionism, and specially with Russian Avant-garde (probably no by chance one of the Russian duet’s action was one-hour seance of calling up the spirit of Kazimierz Malewicz). This is for sure relation marked with distance and perverse humor.

The significant example is an installation M. Bakunin, F. Engels, S. Freud, P. Kropotkin, K. Marx, P. Mondrian, S. Zizek, composed of devil’s masks cut out wooden boards. Looking more carefully it appears that horned shapes are indeed contours of male beards. Placed on the floor or leant on a wall masks intertwine one another creating an image of intellectual exchange between social philosophy and art in XX century.

Yet political themes appear extremely discreetly in artists’ realizations, by overlapping layers or dispersing various elements they use the strategy of mixing tracks, of masking meanings.

Minimalist installations require of spectator attentive look and give satisfaction of solving mysteries – in Alexey and Vasil’s work dominate non obviousness and decentralization. Mixed means are accompanied by mixture of themes, ironic social critique in modern style interweaves with personal reminiscences, everyday life clashes with History.

This freedom – because creativity of Klyuykov and Artamonov is an image of released thought – results in a sense from the method of work. Precisely constructed installations are in a high degree improvised. Taking the formal point of departure and keeping in hands initial plan of action, artists give the shape to an exhibition during a montage. If physical work converges here with intellectual effort, we get in effect thought-out set of objects/signs to an open interpretation.
Zuzanna Hadryś
Michał Lasota


321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States


From: Sep 22, 2011 6:30 PM
To: Nov 2, 2011


Czech Center

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