Tomáš Hrůza, Lukáš Karbus, Matěj Smetana
Before they start talkingExhibition opening: 30. 3. 2022 / 19.00 hod. Exhibition's duration: 31. 3. - 15. 5. 2022 Exhibition's curator: Jiří Ptáček
With the escalating atrocities of recent weeks, a host of other pressing issues we confront have vanished off the face of social debate. However, the despair over the ongoing war in Ukraine gets deeper with ever more reverberating voices saying that because of this war, we shall hold off “ad infinitum” the already insufficient and hard-fought transformation of our corner of the world into a more nature-friendly and less exploitative system. The environmental crisis has gone out of sight and out of mind during this tense period, and the transition to alternative energy sources, the re-evaluation of production-consumption relationships, and the solution of associated social impacts are losing relevance at the expense of the urgency to focus on what the war brings. The negative impact of human activity on climate and global ecology not only persists, but also intensifies. Ultimately, the only way to respond to the environmental changes would be to change ourselves.
The Ještě než promluví exhibition contemplates the role of art in this process of transformation. Fine arts explore various aspects of the aforementioned problems with its numerous approaches, and can also help to strengthen our connection with the non-human aspects of the world that are seemingly detached from us. This shows us the enormous potential of fine arts and the challenging path on which the traps of cheap persuasion or patronizing indoctrination shall be avoided. On the other hand, its goal can be none lesser than the reanimation of our living space – a new kind of animism focusing on the present and looking out into the future, this time without the burden of historicizing and romanticizing hippie concepts. An animism founded on empathy and the resulting actions in a multicentric world to which we belong but which we have never ruled.
The motivation to invite the three mid-generation visual artists from the Czech republic – Tomáš Hrůza (photographer born in 1979), Lukáš Karbus (illustrator and painter born in 1981) and Matěj Smetana (conceptual artist) – is based on their ability to use their empathy as a tool to bring people closer to the nature. The photographs of Tomáš Hrůza reflect his experiences as a part-tourist, part-pilgrim and part-refugee escaping from cities to countryside. His apparently civic and accidental pictures resemble visual allegories rather than documentary photographs – they repeatedly introduce people in a landscape, imposing doubts over human modernity and development of modern civilization, or show people in situations normally associated with tribal societies. In spite of this, the spectator can clearly recognize contemporary people. Karbus uses landscapes and nature to induce imaginative projections. His aquarelles draw inspiration from the everyday physiognomics of northern Bohemian landscape and fluctuate between surreal landscapes and biomorph abstractions as two poles of the sensitive consciousness of the nature. The new animation by Matěj Smetana was inspired by the following question: “If the sea could speak, what would it tell us?” The resulting work of art is a concoction of melancholy and humor in peculiar proportions, although it contains a special kind of humor stemming from anxiety.
With the invasion of enemy forces in Ukraine, our lives were intruded by the feeling that it is somehow inappropriate to create art when bombs are falling down not far from Košice. Our decision was not to cancel this exhibition and support Ukraine in its fight for freedom. We will offer screen prints designed by Lukáš Karbus in collaboration with Šopa Gallery. You can support Ukraine by purchasing or ordering the prints in Šopa Gallery – the whole profit will be donated to Človek v ohrození non-profit organization.
Tomáš Hrůza (born in 1979) studied photography at Faculty of Art and Design at Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem. He is a co-founder of Fotograf 07 and ArtMap platforms. He organizes a “wandering university of nature” called Pilgrim together with art theorist Jiří Zemánek. He has had his standalone exhibitions in Holešovická Šachta Gallery (2019), Fotograf Gallery (2017), Jelení Galerie (2016) or in Ateliér Josefa Sudka studio (2015). He has held a mutual exhibition in 2019 with Nikola Brabcová and Kateřina Drahošová in Galerie České Pojišťovny in Prague and in Měsíc Ve Dne Gallery in České Budějovice. Another exhibition with Velibor Božović took place a year earlier in 17/18 Gallery in Ottawa, Canada. He has carried out an exhibition with Michal Kindernay in Off Format Gallery in Brno (2017) and an exposition project in cooperation with Kateřina Zochová for Kostka / MeetFactory (2013). This year, he has presented a photography object in a ProLuka outdoor exhibition space in Prague. He lives in Prague and in the village of Miřenice u Klatov.
Lukáš Karbus (born in 1981) graduated the Faculty of Fine Arts, Brno University of Technology. In 2021 he was honored by Art critics’ award for young painters (Cena kritiky za mladou malbu) and in 2015 he became a finalist in Cena Jindřicha Chalupeckého award (equivalent of Cena Oskára Čepana award in the Czech republic). He has held standalone exhibitions in Polansky Gallery in Prague and Brno (2014, 2017 and 2019), v Futura Gallery in Prague (2020) or Měsíc Ve Dne Gallery in České Budějovice (2019). He is a teacher at High School of Applied Arts for Glassmaking (Střední uměleckoprůmyslová škola sklářská) in Kamenický Šenov. He resides in Janov u Nového Boru.
Matěj Smetana (born in 1980) studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Brno University of Technology, as well as Karbus. He is currently working at the same institution as an assistant professor at Environment studio. From 2011 to 2020 he worked as a pedagogist at Department of Intermedia and Multimedia at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. Thanks to this serendipity, he was nominated for Oskár Čepan Award in 2015. He has held many independent exhibitions, e.g. in XYZ Gallery in Olomouc (2019), Fait Gallery in Brno (2016), SVIT Gallery in Prague (211 a 2015), Prague City Gallery (Galerie hlavního města Prahy) (2011) or the Moravian Gallery in Brno (Moravská galerie v Brně) (2009). He also held numerous exhibitions together with other artists, e.g. András Csefalvay, Tereza Kabůrková, Barbora Klímová, Tomáš Uhnák, Pavel Sterec, Alice Nikitinová or Tomáš Javůrek. He lives in Prague.