12/22/2020 – ?/?/2021

Alena Matějka

OMNIA MEA

The Omnia mea exhibition presents the independent work of the sculptor Alena Matějka (b. 1966, Jindřichův Hradec). Matějka processes the essence of the sculpture in an innovative way, thinks in a new way about its effect, about how it communicates with the inner and outer space. Her transition from classical sculpture to non-traditional artistic methods is rather smooth, almost natural. This corresponds to the open-mindedness with which she approaches various materials – glass is the main one, but it is freely combined with many other sculptural materials, such as stone, alabaster, marble, as well as non-sculptural ones (photographs, fabrics, ice, water, found objects, etc.). As Matějka herself admits, “I work with glass as with natural matter, which lacks the perfection and exactness of plastic; its beauty is not without visible defects. I process my sculptures so that they are pleasant to the touch. Not touching them is like looking at a cake and not being allowed to eat it. She works on various scales; she has the feeling for both small sculptural works and monumental implementations.

Alena Matějka graduated from the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, Vladimír Kopecký’s studio. His influence on her work was reflected in the rejection of dogmas in the sense of what is acceptable and what is not – in her work, there is both respect for craftsmanship and tradition and, at the same time, a kind of joyful effervescence and openness to various options.

Matějka’s work combine inspiration from nature, myths, and in general the stories of human civilization; somehow inevitably, it includes everyday life, family affairs, friends and the small events that simply happen. The exhibition thus presents both sculptures inspired by archaic or mythical morphology, installations featuring taxidermy animals in combination with glass objects, in which the author mocks certain established values, as well as works in which she returns to family memories.

Alena Matějka lives partly in the Czech Republic and partly in Sweden. The Omnia mea exhibition presents the first comprehensive account of her work, which is undoubtedly one of the most original manifestations of contemporary visual art.

Exhibition Curator: Helena Musilová
Project Manager: Alena Holubová
Czech Copy Editing: Jana Křížová
English Translation: EUFRAT Group, s. r. o., Plzeň (Tomáš Hausner)
Architectural Design: Jiří Novotný (Nanoarchitekti)
Graphic Design: Michal Kupilík
Accompanying Programme: Barbora Štefánková
Publicity: Jana Pelouchová
Installation: Arte Partner Prague, s. r. o., VEDES, s. r. o., Výstavnictví Praha, a. s.
Cooperation: Lars Widenfalk

Acknowledgements:

The exhibition’s authors wish to express their gratitude to the artist and to Lars Widenfalk for loaning the exhibits and for their kind help, as well as to other people, namely Jakub Čermák, Štěpán Lautner, Petr Medek, Stanislav Svoboda, Miloš Věrný and Lenka Viková for their technical support and help during the preparation of the exhibition.

Door, 2001

“My gates are symbolic. They have different forms: sometimes they are more like small windows, other times portals of both chamber and megalithic format. They are like quotation marks in a sentence – they nominate, focus attention, direct views or rays of light, mark the beginning and ending. They frame and draw in, create divides in space, offer a place for other new things, lives and people.” Alena Matějka

Foto: Ondřej Kocourek

Eden Rose, 2007

We have mentioned that Alena Matějka moves between a geometric or, better put, organized order and a soft, surreal dream. Roses are proof that we do not speak of different worlds, but of one in its various forms – it represents both a perfect arrangement and various symbolic interpretations and planes. According to the artist, the rose is a reflection of the human desire for beauty. She makes them of glass and stone, translucent and softly tinted … the Roses are a good example of how working with one material may lead to working with another one.

We have forgotten to mention one important thing that does not normally occur in sculptures and fine arts, and it is scents. Scents are vital to the author and they complete, or perhaps rather form, the perception that she puts into her sculptures: “And how many scents they have! They smell of fruit, cinnamon, musk, lemon, honey, pears, jasmine, myrrh, green apples, plums, cloves, peaches and apricots, sweet almonds, almond blossoms, spices, oranges, ripe mango, green grapes, lilac, hazelnuts, lemon and mulberry flowers.”

Foto: Ondřej Kocourek

Hold me!, 2020 – She is not me, 2018

Memory, both personal and collective, is the framework of Alena Matějka’s works, which in its pure form is seen in those works that process her own memories, but which she also perceive from the distance as someone who lives in a different way and at a different place. In the present Portheimka exhibition, these works are represented by two installations, in which objects related to the artist’s childhood and her memory of the people and things that shaped and formed her childhood appear. Perceiving Matějka’s, Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time comes to mind, as if she materialized Proust’s search for memory, human consciousness, time and beauty.

In both installations, Matějka works with photography, which is a medium different from all the others that appear in fine art – it captures things that we often do not remember, or we experienced them ‘differently’, but they had to happen because there is the picture … The tension between memory and a family snapshot has been described by Roland Barthes in his essay Camera Lucida: “Thus the life of someone whose existence has somewhat preceded our own encloses in its particularity the very tension of History, its division. History is hysterical: it is constituted only if we consider it, only if we look at it -and in order to look at it, we must be excluded from it. As a living soul, I am the very contrary of History, I am what belies it, destroys it for the sake of my own history.”

Foto: Ondřej Kocourek
Foto: Ondřej Kocourek
Foto: Ondřej Kocourek
Foto: Ondřej Kocourek
Foto: Ondřej Kocourek
Rock’n’roll Shaun the Sheep, 2018 / Foto: Ondřej Kocourek
Foto: Ondřej Kocourek
Foto: Ondřej Kocourek
Foto: Ondřej Kocourek
Memento Mori, 2020 / Foto: Ondřej Kocourek