Asymmetrical Equation (Tereza Jindrová)

The exhibition entitled Asymmetrical Equation at the Etcetera Gallery is the first joint presentation of Jana Bernartová and Petr Dub. Although their individual work has long been focused on examining different media domains, with Petr focusing on exploring painting, or rather the painting-as-an-object and the role of its context, and Jana analysing new media and the digital sphere with a particular interest in the nature and theory of colour, both are united by their strongly conceptual thinking and (at least apparent) formal minimalism. The common denominators in the current exhibition also include a certain speculativeness, opacity and playing with recipients of their works.

Petr Dub’s cycle of circular reliefs 213.81 Kg (Potential Causes and Tips) multiplies the monumentalized “brushstroke” and replaces the fetishization of the painter’s handwriting with mechanical reproducibility. At the same time, however, it allows for a series of variations which complicate the reading of the “abstract image”, or rather contaminate it with “external” meanings and symbolism. The metallic, visually appealing colour scheme creates variability in the viewer’s experience of an identical casting depending on the light and viewing angle. At the same time, the intensity of the colour corresponds with the invisible and yet essential fact that the individual casts have a weight range of 12 to 41 kg, despite their presumed identity. Titles evoking emotional and existential states associated particularly with individual (especially male) identity and self-acceptance are also an integral part of the individual works. They ask: Feeling old, crazy, bad, empty, fat, manly, boyish, toy-like, or LOL for no reason? Using all these layers, Petr Dub challenges the unambiguous reading of the individual parts of the cycle and shows that one view is not enough, as things are not what they seemed at a first glance.

In contrast to the literal heaviness of the Petr Dub’s Reliefs, Jana Bernartová brings an ephemeral, almost intangible element of scent into the exhibition. She builds on her long-standing research into the nature of (digital) colour, or rather hyper-colour, which is embodied in particular by RGB blue (digitally recorded as 0 0 255), overlapping with the ultramarine, historically rich in meaning. This time, however, Jana Bernartová attempted to remediate the elusive nature of the colour in a synesthetic and at the same time highly subjective manner, i.e. by transforming the “essence” of this blue into an original perfume (created in collaboration with Kateřina Šantrochová). A unique blue fragrance entitled This is how 0 0 255 smells is embedded in a subtle installation with laboratory glass allowing interaction with the audience. The viewer can wait for his or her drop of This is how 0 0 255 smells, leave it on their skin, take it home, and think of the blue colour. At the same time, however, it permeates the gallery space and before visual perception occurs, it influences our perception, perhaps even our emotional mood. Getting taken aback and sensory activation is further enhanced by a light installation based on the change of light in the white light spectrum from warm to cold (on the border of the blue colour spectrum). A smooth transition in a cycle of about ten minutes results in a change in the perception of the colour shades and the whole environment.

The exhibition Asymmetrical Equation is thus primarily about what we cannot see at a first glance: the effort to give rise to unexpected equivalences, but also to realise on the other hand the incommensurability of the essences of even the most similar things. In this exhibition, the artistic search thus corresponds symbolically with the simple and yet inherent fact that the authors are also life partners.