DARKER THAN BLACK
Exhibition: 19. 2. – 4. 4. 2014
Curated by: Katarína Slaninová
Josef Bolf /CZ/, András Cséfalvay, Lucia Dovičáková, Jiří Franta a David Böhm /CZ/, Jaroslav Kyša, Pavla Sceranková, Boris Sirka, Martin Špirec, Lucia Tallová, Ján Vytiska /CZ/
No other colour from the colour spectrum has had so controversial history and constantly and radically changing people`s relatonship to its meaning and use. Already basic associations involve a contradiction oscillating between positive perception of black as the colour associated with elegance, power, strength, authority to black interpreted as the colour of death, evil, mystery, darkness, fear, aggression etc. The period of the Middle Ages demonized black even more and associated it with symbols of evil. Outcasts of society were usually dressed in black, and black cats and crows earned a reputation of evil and demonic signs. Let us also not forget the Black Death as the biggest bogeyman of that period. The rehabilitation of black occurs in the Romanesque period, when leaders of some religious orders favored ascetic black clothing as a sign of humility and poverty. However, black reached the momentum in its use during the Reformation, when its main leaders used this colour for its mildness and simplicity choosing it as a revolt against the splendor of the Catholic Church. We could continue like this up to present day.Intrinsic contradiction and a diverse referential and interpretational field of the black colour make it the phenomenon that possesses a high potency and attracts also the representatives of contemporary art. A large number of authors using this color as one of the leitmotifs of their work proves its importance also in contemporary art.The exhibition DARKER THAN BLACK at SODA Gallery presents a selection of nine authors and one artistic collective, in whose work black appears more or less regularly. The selected artworks also reflect various ways and strategies how artists use and perceive the black colour in contemporary art practice.Black as a significant linear track carrying an expressive element is the basis of works by the Czech artistic collective Jiří Franta and David Böhm. Their art practice focused on drawing reflects a highly specific perception of this medium. In their perception drawing often emancipates from two-dimensional pictorial space, mingles with other media, becomes a performance or an ephemeral and transitory installation. On the other hand, in a series of large-format drawings entitled Artwork, a Slovak artist Martin Špirec handles this medium as painting and achieves inconceivable spatial tone of picture compositions.Artists like Josef Bolf /CZ/, András Cséfalvay, Lucia Dovičáková, Boris Sirka, Jan Vytiska are inspired by the traditional iconography and symbolism associated with this colour, but they combine it with other subjects such as folklorism, occultism, superstitions, subtle demonization of female perception of the world and the role of women, thematization of fear and anxiety bringing to the fore new narratives and a new repertoire of themes with a strong existential and emotional colouring. Many of these artists use comics stylization entangled with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, a certain vulnerability and nostalgia. Their works are full of melancholy, but on the other hand they reflect a neurotic vision of today's world. Thus many of these authors, though not consciously, become the chroniclers, who record the characteristic atmosphere of today's world. Jaroslav Kyša is represented in the exhibition by a video documentation of a performance in public space entitled In Oil We Trust. In the video a dense black liquid “springs out” from the artist`s mouth symbolizing fear, congestion and impact of omnipresent commercialization on our lives as well as the importance of oil and raw materials and consequences of their un/availability on the life of an individual. In the case of an installation of Pavla Sceranková and an object of Lucia Tallová the black colour becomes a means of expression in the formal way. The artists accentuate its expressivness, power of associations and emotional strength.