Michal Škoda Space in the Reverberation of Human Experience

16. 11. 2016

He converts all sensations into a set of abstract data. The formal structure of terms that will enable him to utter his feeling, describe his experience from architecture, does not take shape before his eyes but through them. The relationship of his body to a particular material order of things, a system showing the dual signature of form, is edited by his thought. Complex equations arise from his pacing, and systems of logical statements grow up from his inhalations and exhalations. All clay is fragrant. Everything that is not clay, has no scent. Tiles have no scent, and so they are not clay. The mathematician transposes his feelings into formal structures. Structures that are precise and flat in the manner of Euclid. Behind his back there is a rustling. The sound of a cello. The mathematicians stops thinking of the scent of space and notices its sound. The embrace of music reverberates from the geometrically doubled walls. He looks around. The feeling of the emptiness of the space of one part deepens, for the other side is filling up more essentially. He is no longer there alone. In the clay he sees a man and woman dancing.

He looks at them and remembers the feeling he had from the place before. After a time an equation results, the principle of motion. He starts to elaborate it into a regular network. The simultaneous processing of emotion in one hemisphere and generation of abstract judgments in the other hemisphere rather interfere with each other: he laughs if he tries to analyse steps, and he is afraid when he analyses the trajectories of balletic bends. Suddenly the geometric grill of a white insertion slides into the movement of the dancers. All his senses layered in time and kept in the archive of logic, which human thought has built, synthesise into an ideal system. The abstract model seems to be completely clear but it has no body, it lacks material. It lacks time in which it could be perceived. The mathematician all at once raises his eyes in surprise and starts to slowly revolve on the spot. Here. That’s it! Im standing right in the middle!

A white structure, grey walls and choreography have embodied his logical conclusions precisely, down to to a millimetre. A feeling of satisfaction spreads through his body. At last someone understands me. He frowns. But who? Or is it an art work? He swayed uncertainly. Then he saw the catafalque, with the press reports lying on it. He walked up to it vigorously, immediately picked up one paper and eagerly bent his eyes to it.

Gallery Na shledanou, exhibition opening Sunday 20th April at 3.00 p.m., the exhibition ran from Sunday 20 April till 22 June 2014 at Gallery Na shledanou in Malsička Cemetery, Volyně. Michal Škoda (1962) is an artist and head curator of the House of Art in České Budějovice. Architecture and space are at the centre of his attention. Space is not an alienated principle of form for him, though, but a reflection of human experience. He says “I regard architecture as most important not from the point of view of building, but from the position of the human being.“

The principle of his own art is reflection on the spiritual disposition of the individual in relation to the town, to space. He transforms a living perceptual relationship into austerely geometric statues, installations, and most recently collages. His work often contains the motif of rebound, something missing, asymmetry, dysfunctional complementarity. One telling artwork in this context is the installation About (Austrian Cultural Forum, Prague, 2011), in which the gallery room is reflected in a large mirror leaning against the wall, while inscribed on the surface of the mirror is the legend, “I prefer to say nothing more at all.” Škoda transposes reality into linear graphic elements that are mutually inter-layered in an order that is intimated. Graphic installations and objects fare a part of his output: for example geometric panoramas of a town converted into basic outlines (It Is Not What It Seems To Be, Galerie Die Aktualität des Schönen…, 2010), a modular building principle in which connecting places are missing (Untitled, Hebel 121, 2009), cut up objects, which when put together form a unified panel but are presented in pieces and irregularly (Untitled I, III, VIII, 2002), picture-sculptures recalling the possibility of dividing window panes (Untitled, 1st Brussels Biennial, 2008), metal plates set on a wall, distortedly mirroring industrial windows (Untitled, Prague Biennale IV, 2009) and others.

While the installations work primarily on the basis of reduction, which confronts the viewer and enables associations of meaning to be set off, Škoda’s collages are more synthetic in form and and more analytical in what they reveal. He always presents them in smaller formats and more extensive groupings. Ground plan records mingle with slogan-style texts, inscriptions, and photographs of architecture are linked up with schemas and pure shapes. To photographs devoted to reality Škoda adds an order that emerges freely from the photographs and preserves the mutual relationship of the elements in a certain tension between description (photograph) and explanation (the whole). He is interested above all in the rhythmic accumulation of objects, exchange of perspectives, transitions from light into darkness, the process of layering, the perception of time. These creative techniques are most prominently expressed for example in the exhibitions Environment
of Time (Drdova Gallery, 2013) and Records (Blansko Town Gallery, 2011; Galerie Fotograf, 2010). Michal Škoda is a seemingly austere and rational author, but this visuality hides a dynamic, rich and emotional search for the place of the human being in the world.

The mathematician lifted his eyes from the paper and glanced around the room. Some people were looking fascinated by the installation and performance, and others were concentrating on general chatting with the acquaintances they see at every exhibition opening. The mathematician’s gaze also took in a few isolated oddities rather close to autism. There was at least one media freeloaders there for the refreshments. An elderly female journalist with a prehistoric dictaphone had jumped on the artist. He heard scraps of conversation: “….do you like best?”
“For a long time now I have said that space is the priority
of my work and interests…”
“… society?”
“In my case the answer isn’t possible – clear, it will always be a subjective view, which in its initial form does not seek to give answers.”
“In what medium do you express yourself best?”
“For some time now drawing has suited me best. Concurrently I have been developing various ideas that relate more to spatial installations and wall paintings. But drawing is my most frequent medium and the basis of a still intensive “open” series of works (since the beginning of 2011) relating to time and the environment. Another important aspect of this series is the presence of text. Art is a form of communication, a kind of language. The text can have the properties of the pictorial, visuality, two-dimensionality.”
“In your last catalogue Terezie Nekvindová wrote that ‘Michal Škoda works in the frame of modernist codes. He adopts an abstract idiom but still resists the simple label of geometry or minimalism’.1 Would you agree with the classification of your art as in the field of modernism and minimalism?”
“The simplicity, austerity, ordinariness and order I often mention… isn’t the result of ‘minimalism”, as I often hear and where some people have a tendency to classify me. Basically, it’s a matter of aspects naturally springing from my very self, that are very important and natural for me. They arise from the strongest feelings, a certain spiritual disposition.”
“Those were appealing words at the end, thank you for talking to me.”

“Thank you. Goodbye.”
He noticed that people were giving him strange looks. It had started to become obvious that he was listening in to other people’s conversation. The mathematician moved away from the speakers not too unobtrusively. But he went outside with a new elan. He sat down in the nearest cafe and started to sketch out on paper all kinds of systems of the town, that he had brushed through, the places that he had overheard, the corners that had breathed on him. He was abstractly satisfied. Manuscript texts and thoughts by Michal Skoda were used in the article.
Michal Škoda is an artist and curator. He has exhibited at solo shows at home and abroad, including the Galerie u Dobrého Pastýře, Brno (1998), Galerie U Bílého jednorožce, Klatovy (2000), Moravian Gallery in Brno (2001), Czech Centre, London (2003), Veletržní palace, National Gallery in Prague (2004), Project Space, Amsterdam and Brussels (2008), Studio 1-1 Gallery, London (2011), Czech Cultural Centre, Vienna (2011) and the Drdova Gallery (2013). He has taken part in many group exhibitions, for example Laboratory (Veletržní palác, National Gallery in Prague, 2001), 40 Positionen 31 Räume (Modern Art Museum, Hünfeld), Urban Jealousy (1st International Biennale of Tehran, 2008), Yo, mo’Modernism… 1 (1st Brussels Biennial, CCNOA, 2008), Brno Art Open: Statues in the Streets (Brno House of Art, 2011), Collaborations and Interventions (CCA Kunsthalle, Mallorca, 2012), Ingredients (Riga Art Space, Riga, 2013), and Dystotal (Pori Art Museum, Finland, 2014) He lives and works in Soběslav, CZ. Markéta Magidová is an artist and art theorist.

1 Terezie Nekvindová „Neříkat nic navíc“, in: Michal Škoda, Michal Škoda, Praha: Drdova Gallery 2013, p. 11


View into Installation of the exhibition Presenceabsence, 2014, wall painting Gallery Na shledanou, Volyně photo: Jan Freiberg. 

Michal Škoda Untitled, 2009 Prague Biennale IV steel, stainless, 100 × 298 × 5 cm photo: Michal Škoda. Michal Škoda

Untitled, 2011 Czech Culture Center, Vienna photo: Michal Škoda.

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