Gallery of Contemporary Painting with my curator Martin Mikolášek and theatre director Jiří Nekvasil
ZAZA Gallery Ostrava – with my curator Radana Zapletalová
ZAZA Gallery Ostrava – with my prof. Daniel Balabán from Faculty of Fine Arts
On the canvases of the painter Julia Machallova, we can meet climbers in the Himalayas, a hushed Buddhist shrine in Kathmandu, the bustling bustle of a train station somewhere in India, the city ruins in Gaza that also house people, or the quaint balconies of tenements in Bangkok, or perhaps the windows of a Holocaust museum in Berlin. It is the motif of the window that we can see as the connecting moment of most of the paintings presented by the author in the Gallery of Contemporary Painting of the Antonin Dvorak Theatre in Ostrava.
The “window” is significant for the painting. Along with the Renaissance discovery of the utility of mathematical perspective for building the illusion of space on a two-dimensional surface, artists and theorists alike begin to think of a painted painting as a window through which to peer into a complete pictorial world, the different elements of which are logically and proportionally intertwined, and in which the intensity of the visual deception is almost indistinguishable from what one actually sees when one looks at the world around oneself. The paradigm of painting as a mimetic conjuring, for several long centuries, governed how the painting should be related. It wasn’t until the modernist accentuation of image autonomy as a self-referential artistic unit – which needs no connotations other than the very ones the author attributes to it without the need to theme its relation to the seen – that it meant a definite break from the traditional commitment to painting to make it visually believable. In hindsight, however, it is clear that the modernist denial of the mimetic role of painting, which in its time was certainly liberating, did not and does not mean rejection of the imitation as such, as the work with it has remained present in painting one way or another to this day. So what is it about Julia Machall’s paintings? Is she primarily concerned with depicting the seen, or are there other reasons behind her creation?
By claiming an artistic apparatus in his painting that allows for illusory imaging, it would seem that we are indeed witnessing a creation in which it is all about capturing the seen. But Julia Machall’s paintings are the result of a more structured handling of the theme. Her canvases aren’t just snapshots of her travels. They are an intersection of different influences and tendencies, in which the individual visual memory of the seen is only one of the reasons why her images are made. In addition to the memory of the seen, he wants to visually capture emotions, cultural differences, but also echoes of his past memories, ideas, and perhaps fears. The elusiveness of unique moments therefore translates into scenes that, as a result, have generally narrative potential. The one who will continue to develop (any) story is not the author who is at the beginning of it, but the viewer who is given the opportunity (and responsibility) to finish the story seen in the contexts of his mental emphases – geographical, social or environmental. The “window” therefore figures here as a symbolic guide to reading: every window (train, house, museum, shrine) is always in some way a vision, a thought and an image, a space between in and out. A relationship that by imagination transforms the intuitive into the real.