In her “gum lagoon” exhibition Viktorie Valocká (*1988) presents a selection of her paintings produced in the course of the last year. To refer to them as landscapes seems out of place somehow. As if it might take us somewhere we wouldn’t want to be. She herself conceives of her paintings as an environment constructed by painterly means. The landscape element, however, is constantly present. Often it appears only as a suggestion, involuntarily, via specific work with colour. For that matter, colour has been this artist’s domain for many years. By continuous work and experiment with colours on textile, rinsing them, bleaching them, painting with Savo (a disinfectant) or using wax, Valocká has cultivated an uncommon painterly sensitivity. Her canvases acquire a new spatial dimension from her use of overlapping colour layers. Predominantly her colour is temperate. Often, though, she surprises us with an unexpected force of expression. She manages to put colours together in what are at first sight aggressive contrasts, but subsequently these make an impression of harmony. Then again, she has certain colour initiatives whose impact goes so far as to be toxic. Overall, the environmental aspect has its undeniable place in Valocká’s painting series. Not, however, in the form of primary communication; rather, it operates subconsciously behind the artist’s critical thinking and appears latently in the paintings, as a burdensome presence. The painting space, however, is often contaminated on the formal and motivic levels.
Viktorie Valocká’s paintings emerge in layers, strata of colour and material and of content also. They grip the viewer with uncommon force, but always there’s something which makes it impossible for him/her to penetrate the communicative essence and find the right key for reading them. Valocká deliberately uses various interventionist methods on the painting surface in an attempt to disrupt its integrity. She may intervene by painterly means such as prints or gestural moves of the tag writer type, or by choice of motif. Mostly these interventions arise intuitively, as if of their own accord. Often they are mutually negating, or they drown one another out. At other times they evoke experiences which turn everything done hitherto inside out. There is no need, though, to interpret them. Probably then they would lose some of their magic.
For the rest, the ideas and forms underlying Viktorie Valocká’s work are unusually intricate. They take shape from the broad range of inspiration and stimulus that she derives from the history of Czech and world art, both the visual element and the characteristic expressions of subcultural communities (the grime style of music; the graffiti scene). Sometimes their origin is perceptible at first glance, while at other times it can only be situated with difficulty. It is defined not least by a certain opposition to mainstream “cultural” production and an effort, perhaps to some degree obsessive, to remain immune to any sort of trend. From the saturation flow of visual stimuli, however, Valocká manages to extract an essence and here, through her own painterly sensitivity, she is able further to develop this and transmute it into an autonomous and authentic expressive whole. She thus presents to the viewer a thoroughly mixed and surprisingly full-bodied cocktail, in which form without excess is in harmony with its own content.
In the exhibition’s title “gum lagoon” there is a latent duality that highlights the essence of the material. It refers to an element that is natural and also artificially created by man, to substances in essence indissolubly linked, which often enter into mutual animosity. And it is as if they had slowly sunk beneath the surface and then again emerged into view: that is the sort of feeling which the phrase evokes. The element of water or fluid substance is present in various forms in the exhibited paintings. As a pacific sea landscape, captured in a childish hand, and as savage water that sweeps away everything in its path. The colourful character of some of the exhibited canvases evokes the foul, muddied liquid of stagnant water, or the flooding of matted vegetation. A semi-permeable and at the same time absorbent lagoon. So then, a specific environment, where by a combination of unique elements something entirely distinctive emerges. An environment that is living its own rich life.
Viktorie Valocká (*1988, lives and works in Prague). A graduate of Painting Studio 2 at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts, where she has worked in the Visiting Lecturer Studio of Florian Pumhösl and Silke Otto-Knapp. In recent years Viktorie Valocká has developed a specific technique of painting, based on experimentation with material and procedures for applying colours to the canvas. She has taken part in entire series of group exhibitions; shows which presented her work include Against Nature (NG Prague, 2016) and Alone (Sør-Troms Museum, Trastad, Norway, 2016). She is a finalist for the Jindřich Chalupecký Prize.