Foto: Martin Polák
Foto: Martin Polák
Foto: Martin Polák
Foto: Martin Polák
Foto: Martin Polák

9/5/2020 – 11/29/2020

Lukáš Kalivoda, Jakub Jansa:

Matter of sensitivity

Exhibition Matter of sensitivity is a joint presentation of Lukáš Kalivoda’s and Jakub Jansa’s works. Both belong among young, yet already distinct artists. It is an encounter of two author’s approaches – Lukáš Kalivoda works with glass and develops author’s painting techniques while Jakub Jansa focuses on the medium of dynamic image and on work with the genre of installations. The works of both artists may be understood as experimental, multi-layered in terms of meaning, yet attractive for audience.

They have prepared a representative insight into their work. Lukáš Kalivoda presents a series of paintings created with his own author’s technique – by taking a film of paint off water level. He fits foil on the inner side of a large cylinder. He then fills the cylinder with water and pours paints diluted in turpentine or various diluents into it. The solution creates a surface film. He then gradually withdraws the water from the cylinder. As the level drops, the pigments get caught on the surface of the foil. The individual steps of releasing the water create subtle transfers of colours as well as a typical line structure of the image. A part of the exhibition is also his installation called Chvění hladiny (Quivering Surface). It is a glass cylinder filled with water to the brim. We can see the water surface vibrate and ripple subtly. The ripples of the surface and their visual reflections may be perceived as an inconspicuous latent image hovering on the edge of substantiality as well as of our perception.

Jakub Jansa often works with narration. We know the principles he uses from media or social networks. However, he disrupts their visual and information strategies and shifts them in terms of meaning, uncovering thus various forms of manipulation as well as deeper hidden ‘poetically metaphorical’ motifs. Within the current media discourses or habitual forms of perception, he thus discovers (and, of course, also creates or implants in them) structures which hold inside certain almost mythopoetic elements. A part of this set is also his installation Occult table. It is a variation of an object belonging to a broader series of installations, performances and video projections titled Club of Opportunities. As the references to this large project may not be sufficiently unfolded in the context of a rather intimate joint exhibition, we encounter a work functioning as a fragment, as a reference to an absent whole. The entire object thus becomes more enigmatic and more ambiguous. Another Jakub Jansa’s work is a video titled Celery ASMR. What captures our attention apart from its odd atmosphere is its detailed soundtrack – the phenomenon of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian reaction) shifting the auditive experience to a literally intimate and genuinely physical level.

A part of the exhibition is also a video conceived as a specific visually-rhetoric commentary featuring the curator of the exhibition as well. In terms of genre, it is a loosely conceived video-essay interconnecting the individual artifacts. The purpose of the video is double: it should interconnect the works of both participating artists in terms of meaning and explain them and, at the same time, to complicate them slightly. This is given by the fact that the curator performs a double part – both as an ‘independent’ person and as a part of the game, which means that he is actually acting his ‘independent part’.

These duplicated essayistic readings try to interconnect both artistic projects in a discursive way – to show the exhibition as a whole within which both artists together create a certain ‘floating zone’, which each of them enters from his own side. The overlap of one to the position of the other may be understood as a part of their joint experiment: a connection of two artistic personalities, complementing and differing from each other at the same time.

Apart from this discursive connection, it is especially a detailed sensory experience what connects both artistic projects. Lukáš Kalivoda explores the substantivity of visual forms, pigments, and emulsions while Jakub Jansa overwhelms us with ‘auditive matter’. This way, they are suggesting us to immerse in the experience and sensory exploration of the presented works, in all the visual or auditive perception they are offering, to observe them carefully and let them carry us away…



Profiles of authors:

Lukáš Kalivoda (1986) works with glass and develops author’s painting techniques. In 2006 to 2012, he studied at at The Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague at the Studio of Glass led by Vladimír Kopecký and later Rony Plesl.

He builds upon the professional experience of a glass-maker – as he is an experimental author, the material and technologies connected with this craft become a source of further inspiration for him. Presently, he focuses on a technically and technologically innovative painting technique of taking films of paint off the surface of water. This way, large-format paintings are created, which combine a controlled laboratory-workshop process with the freedom of their natural origin.

Exhibitions (selection)

Malba vodou (Painting with Water), MeetFactory, Prague, 2018; Tiskárna (Printer), Automatické mlýny (Automatic mills), Pardubice, 2018; participation: IGS International Glass Symposium, Nový Bor, 2018

Jakub Jansa (1989) works with video, installations, and performances. In 2011 to 2016, he studied at The Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague at the Supermedia Studio led by Federico Díaz and David Kořínek. During the period of 2017 to 2019, he led the studio of Temporary Arts at the Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) as a visiting pedagogue.

Jansas’ artistic thinking is influenced by current visual and media strategies. He uncovers various forms of manipulation and information shifts in them. At the same time, he also discovers deeper hidden motifs and tendencies in them – a certain, hitherto undiscovered, mythopoetic heritage. Jansa often works with stories and seeks a message, but as his work with narratives takes place on a formally complicated discursive-poetical level, he does not tell us his ideas directly, but in metaphors, hints, ironical shifts, or he opens almost absurd aspects of the depicted situation in specifically over-illuminated expositions.

Exhibitions (selection)

Project Club of Opportunities: HeK, Basel, Switzerland, 2019; Ten Years Night (Club of Opportunities Ep. 6), Fotopub Project Space, Ljubljana, 2019; Pioneer Works, New York, USA, 2018; Anti-, The 9th Athens Biennale, Greece, 2018; Britannica Bootcamp (Club of Opportunities Ep. 4), CEAAC, Strasbourg, France, 2018; My name is Red Herring (Club of Opportunities Ep. 3), Fotograf Gallery, Prague, 2018

Kamil Nábělek (1964) is chiefly interested in modern and contemporary art. He focuses mainly on its theoretical and methodological questions. Having graduated from the Faculty of Arts, Charles University (art history, aesthetics and philosophy), he worked as a curator of the sculpture collection in the Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National Gallery in Prague, lectured at the Department of Art History and Aesthetics of the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. At present, he teaches at the Faculty of Arts and Architecture of the Technical University in Liberec.

Selected Publications:

Kamil Nábělek, ed., Václav Navrátil: Umění a metafyzika (Václav Navrátil: Arts and Metaphysics), Praha, Torst 2018.

Kamil Nábělek, Umělecké dílo jako exemplární paradigma a dialektický obraz. Analogie mezi koncepty Giorgia Agambena a Waltera Benjamina (An Artwork as an Exemplary Paradigm and a Dialectical Image: An Analogy between the Concepts of Giorgio Agamben and Walter Benjamin), Sešit pro umění, teorii a příbuzné zóny 24, 2018, pp. 6–40.

Exhibition Curator: Kamil Nábělek
Project Manager: Alena Holubová
Czech Copy Editing: Jana Křížová
English Translation: EUFRAT Group, s. r. o., Plzeň (Radek Chejlava)
Architectural Design: Jakub Jansa
Graphic Design: Petr Bosák, Robert Jansa (20YY Designers)
Accompanying Programme: Barbora Štefánková
Publicity: Jana Pelouchová
Installation: Arte Partner Prague, s. r. o.
Cooperation: Helena Musilová


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

Lukáš Kalivoda, Quivering Surface (Chvění hladiny), glass, water, 2020

The work called Quivering Surface is a minimalist object – a rather tall glass cylinder filled with water to its brim. It stands on a platform so that its simple purity of glass with water making one shape together is evident in the space. At the same time, thanks to the platform, we can see the brim of the cylinder and also the surface level of the water at the eye level. An oscillator is located under the bottom of the cylinder, which vibrates the water surface. Slight ripples of the surface and shimmering reflections of gentle waves create an inconspicuous visual movement. We can perceive the events on the surface as an ethereally light, almost latent image hovering on the edge of substantiality as well as of our perception. If we observe these slow movements and small visual changes for some time, the work will gradually lead us to mental calm and a relaxed perception of fleeting and ephemeral phenomena.

Lukáš Kalivoda, Chvění hladiny (2020)

Lukáš Kalivoda, October 10, 2019 (7. 10. 2019), oil, vinyl foil, 2019

In this exhibition, Lukáš Kalivoda is presenting a series of paintings created with a special technique – by picking a colour film from the water surface. For this reason, he also creates new ‘painting’ tools and develops non-traditional methods of artistic work. The basic ‘tool’ is a large metal cylinder, to the inner side of which he attaches a foil, a carrier of the future image. The cylinder is then filled up with water and onto the water surface paints are poured previously mixed with turpentine or other thinners. Their mixture forms a surface film, the actual basis of the image, which is then formed by the gradual draining of the water. As the water level decreases, the pigments are transferred onto the surface of the foil, the individual steps of draining the water subsequently creating a characteristic ‘line markings’ of the image.

Through the concentration of paints and thinners, Lukáš Kalivoda can control the resulting structure of the ‘painting’. The transitions are either smooth and gradually shaded, or the surface film may tear, creating a more expressively formulated texture. This latter is the case of the work titled October 7, 2019 – we can see a rather dramatic composition, the basic horizontal structure of the painting being disrupted by breaks or ‘teeth’ that cross the individual layers and interrupt their regular sequence. It is as if looking at an abstract glacial field in which various ice floes and breaks meet, forming from within an area of calm, yet convergently distributed forces.

Lukáš Kalivoda, 7. 10. 2019 (2019)

Lukáš Kalivoda, February 6, 2020 (6. 2. 2020), oil, vinyl foil, 2020

Lukáš Kalivoda’s ‘paintings’ are a kind of material imprint of the time flow; a record of the few hours or dozens of minutes during which the painting is created. During this unique process, its characteristic horizontally-layered structure is formed. Each layer and its internal division presents traces left behind by a leaking liquid carrying a colour film on its surface. The basic composition is thus determined by a sequence of sediments, finer or coarser particles, which form a more or less cohesive environment of colour pigments, oil, turpentine and water. Kalivoda’s paintings record the moment of the creation of a unique visual sequence, they show the current course of water / time flowing. That is why these works are marked only with the dates of their origin. From tension and affinity within a mixture of paints and water, physical-chemical bonds and forces are born which, guided by the artist’s imagination and practical experience, give out the most important thing – the final image, in which the nature of its origin is combined with the activity of artistic intent into indestructible unity.

The image called February 6, 2020 is an example typical of this process: we see the basic, almost geometric division of coloured layers. These are further more finely structured inside and interconnected by small capillaries of colour pigments. Geometry, materiality and natural forms of growth or flow and elution form together a unity, which combines a clear compositional solution with a detailed and delicate, spontaneously created drawing. We can see a kind of geological form, firmly established, but at the same time permeated with traces of numerous diverse processes. Everything seems to have been here for a long time, but still alive and in constant motion. The paintings by Lukáš Kalivoda can work in such an ambiguous way, but there is no paradox: both tendencies – to remain unchanged and to change – are constantly at work in them.

Lukáš Kalivoda, 6. 2. 2020 (2020)

Lukáš Kalivoda, March 3, 2020 (3. 3. 2020), oil, vinyl foil, 2020

For the final form of Lukáš Kalivoda’s paintings, it is important to connect technologically controllable methods with the openness of the entire creative process. Because everything takes place in natural conditions, even changes in ambient air pressure, such as before a storm or rain, also the properties of liquids change and, consequently, it influences the course of the paint transfer. From the point of view of technology, this is a border area where traditional methods (used e. g. by the old bookbinders, who prepared various ‘marble’ papers with the help of oil paints mixed on gelatin) meet with experimental and purely authorial techniques open to artistic intuition, similar to those which a watercolour or ink painter works with.

In these moments of creation, Lukáš Kalivoda is fully immersed in work reaching to the level of the finest pigment grains, descending to the level of microscopic processes which, on the one hand, are flowing through an ‘artificial trough’ of the laboratory-workshop process but, on the other hand, follow their own, practically inexplorable rules. From this combination of determination and incidence, control and freedom the magic of the whole result stems. What we see is the workshop of an artist-experimenter, who shapes natural processes in an almost alchemical way, in order to materialise the fragile and transient relationships of disparate liquids: paints, thinners and water.

Speaking metaphorically, the picture March 3, 2020 shows what the constellation of all the mentioned phenomena was that day. It is a complex, yet a uniform image, its fine structure naturally associates with large areas of coloured spots. The result is a compact scene in which the material conditions of the birth of the image itself seem to appear ‘of their own making’. Its fluid, aquatic character ‘pours’ freely into a wide panorama. A kind of underwater landscape or a cloudy, foggy field opens up in front of us to great depths. We sail or float in a space permeated by diffuse matter, below us we see indefinite, regularly wrinkled formations running towards the horizon. It is as if the complex technical and physical-chemical conditionality of the origin of the image has now disappeared, in order to make room for a sovereign gesture of pure artistic creation.

Lukáš Kalivoda, 3. 3. 2020 (2020)

Jakub Jansa, Occult Table, print on etched mirrors, LED, 2019–2020

The Occult Table installation is an object that belongs to a series of installations, performances and video projections called the Club of Opportunities. However, references to this complex and long-processed series of art projects cannot be developed within the current, relatively intimate exhibition, so the work here functions more as a fragment referring to the absent whole. Thanks to that, it looks a bit mysterious and ambiguous.

On the reflective table top, three glass mirror balls with irregular annealing and a wooden, not clearly identifiable object are lying. The surface of the table is also a collage-like image: we see a photograph of a man holding a celery bulb, in the corner there is an elliptical ‘cut-out’ leading to the next dimension of the image. In it, we recognize a scene that is difficult to classify: celery bulbs lying on a pool table covered with plastic, two slot machines flash in the background. How do all these objects and scenes belong together? What do the celery bulbs represent? What is essential, what is an enriching adjunct to the main theme, and what is just a special add-on? We do not know this and this work gives no answer either. What we are left with is ‘only’ a set of objects, various hints and references, which the title Occult Table suggests to be something more than just actually exhibited objects or a kind of visual collage.

The combination of an artistically well thought-over set of artefacts and paintings together with the multi-layer possibilities of their interpretation creates the resulting work, an ‘object of difficult meaning’. This semantic and artistic ‘duplication’ is part of the author’s intention; he consciously works with a combination of complicated narrative and attractive visual. It is up to us whether we accept this artist’s game outlined as a challenge to complete and ultimately unify the work in our own aesthetic performance but, at the same time without destroying its elementary ambiguity. And perhaps it is in this multidirectional activation of our imagination where the secret of this Occult Table lies.

Jakub Jansa, Occult table (2019–2020)