Jirí Kovanda, WHITE BLANKET, installation view, Secession 2010, photo: Wolfgang Thaler
Jiří Kovanda, WHITE BLANKET, installation view, Secession 2010, photo: Wolfgang Thaler


In the Czech artist Jiří Kovanda, the Secession once again presents an artist in an advanced stage of his career who is currently considered an important point of reference for younger artists. For his first solo show at an institution in Vienna, he has conceived a new installation specifically designed for the main hall at the Secession. In this new work, he continues his subtle praxis of minimal and offhand gestures.


Jirí Kovanda, WHITE BLANKET, installation view, Secession 2010, photo: Wolfgang Thaler Jirí Kovanda, WHITE BLANKET, installation view, Secession 2010, photo: Wolfgang Thaler
Jiří Kovanda, WHITE BLANKET, installation view, Secession 2010, photos: Wolfgang Thaler


The public perception of Jiří Kovanda’s work often focuses on his early interventions in the public space. During the second half of the 1970s, he implemented a series of performances in Prague that examined the socially familiar on the edge of invisibility, probing the leeway everyday life leaves the individual. For instance, he would stare, as though spellbound, in the eyes of people standing behind him on an escalator, or stand, arms spread wide, on the city’s central Wenceslas Square. In other works, he staged perfectly humble materials, such as piles of leaves or small towers made of sugar cubes, at selected sites in the city. After focusing on creating collages and assemblages during the1980s and 1990s, he has in recent years increasingly returned to ephemeral and situation-specific actions and installations. In Kissing Through Glass (2007), for instance, visitors to the Tate Modern, London, were invited to interact with the artist in the way indicated by the title; during the opening of the art fair Fiac (2007), he smuggled candies into visitors’ handbags; and on the occasion of an exhibition in Santiago de Compostela, he cut an antique round table into four parts, which he fitted into the corners of the room (2008).


Jirí Kovanda, WHITE BLANKET, installation view, Secession 2010, photo: Wolfgang Thaler Jirí Kovanda, WHITE BLANKET, installation view, Secession 2010, photo: Wolfgang Thaler
Jiří Kovanda, WHITE BLANKET, installation view, Secession 2010, photos: Wolfgang Thaler


The central element in Kovanda’s site-specific installation for the main hall at the Secession is a wall rising to the viewer’s eye level that divides the exhibition space into two halves; its layout includes a series of bays and salients. It creates tensions on various levels: between the empty space it leaves wide open and the niches it circumscribes, between sculptural autonomy and architectural function, between the exposed space in front and the concealed space behind. With the shape of the wall, and in particular with its height designed such that visitors can just barely look over it, Kovanda actively involves them in the play of hide and seek that is characteristic of his oeuvre. Within this architecture, he places, with an almost offhand gesture, various objects—though they are taken from domestic life, their subtexts readily suggest erotic connotations—: white blankets, a blue orchid, a red lamp, a yellow broom … In their presentation, Kovanda applies the poetic-Surrealist principle of transforming objects and situations by means of small alterations that displace them into more open significative contexts.


Jirí Kovanda, WHITE BLANKET, installation view, Secession 2010, photo: Wolfgang Thaler
Jiří Kovanda, WHITE BLANKET, installation view, Secession 2010, photo: Wolfgang Thaler



Jiří Kovanda (*1953) lives and works in Prague.


Catalogue

Katalog JIŘÍ KOVANDA

96 pages, dimension: 23 x 31 cm, about 130 color illustrations
Text and Interview with Jiří Kovanda: Edith Jeřábková, German/English
Secession 2010, ISBN 978-3-902592-30-9
Distribution: Revolver Verlag
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available in the shop


Solo shows (selection)
2009 Galerie Krobath, Berlin; 1, 2, 3, Wallspace, New York; 1, 2, 3, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York, 2008 Pink Carpet, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela; Resistance, Dominik Art Edition, Krakau; Stains, Galerie Futura, Prag (mit E. Kotatkova); Two Cushions, gb agency, Paris; 2007 Jiří Kovanda vs Rest of the World, De Appel, Amsterdam; Centre d’Art Passerelle, Brest; Centre d’Art Santa Mónica, Barcelona.

Group shows (selection)
2010 Double Bind / Arretez d’essayer de me comprendre, Villa Arson, Nizza, 2009 40 Lives of One Space / Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Red October Chocolate Factory, Moscow; Energy and Proces (Landscape and Action), Tate Modern, London; The Death of the Audience, Secession, Vienna, Performing the East, Salzburger Kunstverein; Tschechische Fotografie des 20. Jahrhunderts, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der BRD, Bonn; 2008 Art Sheffield 08 – Yes, No & Other Options, Situ Gallery, Sheffield; You Are My Mirror 1: L’Infamille, FRAC Lorraine, Metz; La Foule / Zéro–Infini, Espace d’Art Contemporain la Tôlerie, Clermond Ferrand; Crossing 68/89, Akademie der Künste, Berlin; Mind Expanders, Museum moderner Kunst, Vienna; Collection premier mouvement. Des contes, des images, quelques tableaux et un théatre invisible, Musée Départemental d’Art Contemporain, Chateau de Rochechouart; 2007 Kontakt Belgrade, Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade; Tanzen Sehen, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Siegen; Actions and Interruptions, Tate Modern, London; A CDEFGHIJK MNOPQ STUV Z, Frac Ile de France / Le Plateau, Paris; Prague Biennale 3, Karlin Hall, Prague; Form Follows... Risk, Futura / Karlín Studios, Prag; Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava; documenta 12, Museum Fridericianum, Kassel.



The Secession is supported by:
Erste Bank – Partner of the Secession
Wien Kultur
Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur
Friends of the Secession

Cooperation-, Mediapartners, Non-Cash Benefit:
Der Standard
Ö1 Club
Silver Server
hs art service austria GmbH.
Trumer Privatbrauerei



FRANCIS UPRITCHARD    ANNA ARTAKER EXHIBITION PROGRAM 2010



For further information and photographic material please contact:

Katharina Schniebs
Secession, Association of Visual Artists Vienna Secession
Friedrichstraße 12, 1010 Vienna
Tel: +43-1-5875307-21, Fax: +43-1-5875307-34
presse@secession.at