They met few years ago at Vladimír Skrepl’s and Jiří Kovanda’s studio at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. They’re not only generationally close, but also have the same sense of delicacy, similar basis and comparable optics through which they approach painting. Viktorie Langer (1988) is one of the gallery’s in-house artists and invited Hana Garová (1986) to engage in mutual dialogue. They have the opportunity to test what connects them and conversely, how their work differs.
They named the exhibition “Fucking painting”. And that’s primarily what all this is about. The artists express through the painterly means kind of naturally, without any crucial mistrust regarding their own medium and despite over and over again proclaimed “ends of painting” or dangerous turns of commodification of canvases. For them, painting is a form of communication, a way of existence and orientation in the world, a given constant with all its pros and cons.
Works of Hana and Viktorie are, to a certain extent, created non-speculatively (even if it means that they would miss a rational and intellectual component). They are developed on the basis of associations, in which the decisive factors are the subconscious and unconscious. Compositions balance between abstraction and reality depiction, they lack deeper space and are more like maps or scribbled walls.
Both artists’ paintings represent hidden rebuses in which it is often not clear what the “figure” or “background” is. Only after some time we’ll recognize human figures in the organic clutter of Viktore’s paintings, usually only fragments such as head or intestines (event graffiti tags can appear figure-like). Besides humans, Hana also depicts animals which she perceives as archetypal symbols. The motifs hide, disappear, reappear and even though the artists don’t know exactly what each sign’s meaning is or what they imprinted into the paintings, in the end it doesn’t matter because it’s not necessary to fully understand them.
The manuscripts are different, Viktorie experiments a little less than few years ago and in the present phase, she does not paint on unprepared canvases, tie-dye bed sheets or suede couches. She not only uses acrylic but also oil paints which have different optical qualities and bear a reference to the venerable history of painting. Her works appear smooth, calm and sometimes even warm. On the other side, Hana works with narratives more, her paintings are like “movies compressed into one scene”, as she herself put it. And it’s always drama. Her expression is volatile and she’s able to speak multiple languages at the same time (in 2020 it was at least three – from a series of poured pieces to expressive, pasty painting).
On the contrary, what Viktorie and Hana have in common is certainly their understanding of painting. The basis of their work lies in the process itself, meaning the path they take while creating their artworks. Both of them have an ambivalent relationship to the process of painting, it could be called Hassliebe or a “love-hate relationship”, if you will: it’s based on passion, but it also bears a certain suffering. Fucking painting. Prissily searching for form, endless changes and decisions, feelings of dissatisfaction, maladroitness, unwieldiness, but also powerful satisfaction when something happens by itself and suddenly, everything starts to make sense thanks to work on the painting in a breaking moment, as an American painter Amy Sillman, whose work both of the artists know well, wrote. In the text “Shit happens” (Frieze, 22/2015–2016), she marked these uncontrollable lower ponds as “awkwardness”, which in this context signifies weirdness. Its precondition is an intimate relationship, manifesting itself, besides other things, as a bodily aspect of paintings – as a format derived from human height, or as an approach to the process of painting as such. Whether Viktorie and Hana work in a studio or on the floor at home, they get lost in painting. Their artworks even challenge the viewer: dive in, look and get lost, maybe. Fucking painting. / Terezie Nekvindová
Viktorie Langer (*1988, lives and works in Prague). In 2015, she graduated from the Studio of Painting II at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, where she also studied under the supervision of visiting teachers Florian Pumhösl and Silke Otto-Knapp. She visited Madrid, Athens and Rotterdam for study trips and residencies. Her solo exhibitions include projects at David Zwirner Gallery (2019, New York, pop-up as part of the Plan B fair) or Het Wilde Weten (2017, Rotterdam). Langer participated in group exhibitions at the Biennale Matter of Art (2020, Prague), Against Nature (2016, National Gallery in Prague) or Alone (2016, Sør-Troms Museum, Trastad), etc. In 2017, she was one of the finalists of the Jindřich Chalupecký Award. She exhibited with Hana Garová in 2019 in HotDock Project Space, Bratislava and in 2011 at GAVU, Prague (together with Ondřej Petrlík).
Hana Garová (*1986, lives and works in Prague). In 2013, she graduated from the Studio of Painting II at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and went on study trips and residencies to Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten in The Hague and Egon Schiele Art Center in Český Krumlov. Her solo exhibitions were held at Ideál Gallery (2018, Prague) or etc. Gallery (2013, Prague). She participated in numerous group shows, for example in Human Scale (2019, Industra Art, Brno), Painting of the Year 2017 (2017, Nedbalka Gallery, Bratislava), Black Horses (Adam Gallery, Brno), etc. In 2016 she took part at the Czech-Austrian Star symposium in Lytomyšl, in 2017 she won the 3rd place in the VÚB Bank Foundation’s Painting of the Year Prize. Together with Viktorie Langer, she exhibited in HotDock Project Space, Bratislava in 2019 and in 2011 at GAVU in Prague (also with Ondřej Petrlík).