An important personality on the action art scene of the eighties and at present head of the Environment of Conceptual Creation Studio at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Brno University of Technology, Vladimír Merta these days focuses on painting. After a phase of performances in the countryside which were recorded, at the beginning of the nineties he exhibited spatially conceived pictures, objects and installations, in which he combined natural and civilised symbols with traditional and unusual materials, typical and atypical elements. He subjected both archetypes of the natural world and the schema of virtual perception to analysis. His sculptural object Public Geometry (1991) features a gallows created from boards from the natural trunk of a tree and a running test card of an empty television screen. This is related to a series of pictures in the style of Piet Mondrian, involving the geometric composition of wood, paint and leather entitled Hot Geometry, as well as other spatial installations, for instance a set of telephone receivers on tree stumps entitled Cut and Grafted Poplar (1992), between which it was possible to communicate. Several years later he replaced live wood with a stone fossil in a composition featuring the ground plan of a temple (The Stone of the Right Moment, 1999). He then realised an event with a tree “floating” against the current of the River Vltava to the Museum of the Sova Mills (Kampa Museum) in Prague entitled Immigrant in Memory of the Flooding of 2002. This object was first exhibited at Karlínská štípárna at the exhibition entitled Certain Traces: Dialogue Los Angeles – Prague in 2004, before being installed outdoors in Kampa Park. The large exhibition entitled ErRors devoted to Merta at the Gallery of Critics in 2009 introduced his compact cycle of large-format pictures originally entitled Watching Spirit for presentation in the USA, which combine painterly and media visions on “defective” TV screens. Their grainy quality, soft focus and pointillism is based on the optical sources of illumination on the TV screen, which is where the media vision is created. After a photographic analysis of this world, Merta transferred his technical findings to canvass, both with and without the contact of the brush, by splashing paint onto the canvass using large brushes, and installed these paintings as TV receivers in public places. He demythologised their motifs in such a way that the pictures return us to a natural perception of painting. In 2010 Merta created abstract pictures entitled Painting by Wind, referencing his Drawings by Wind from the end of the eighties, also painted by using contact-free acrylics using a brush placed on a metal holder and moving freely across the canvas at the whim of the wind. He showed these pictures at his most recent exhibition in the Jindřichův Hradec Museum, drawing attention to the synthesis of his natural and painterly vision, both in art and in the sphere of cultural ecology.
- text: Vlasta Čiháková Noshiro