ART BRUT – JOSEF HOFER
16 November 2010 – 5 January 2011
Austrian Cultural Forum in Prague, Jungmannovo náměstí 18, Prague 1
Austrian Josef Hofer (born 1945) ranks amongst the most distinctive living artists professing Art Brut.
Hofer – deaf-mute, uneducable and suffering from a learning disability – was cast into social isolation in early childhood. But in return, this not only brought him independence from both social and artistic conventions, but also absolute creative freedom. He chose drawing as his main means of communication. Hofer draws in an unrestrained manner, spontaneously, moving beyond any inner or outer censorship. The authenticity, originality and artistic qualities of his oeuvre make him one of the pre-eminent masters of Art Brut.
Essential to Josef Hofer was his discovery of the human figure or, rather, the reflection of his own nudity in the mirror. The image of his sexually aroused body came to fascinate him. Hofer is magically and irresistibly drawn to that image in the same way as Narcissus was mesmerised by the reflection of his own face on the water’s surface in the well. But while Narcissus’ self-centred love, which could never be fulfilled, brought him nothing but suffering and death, Josef Hofer’s awakening to his own corporeality and the introduction to his alter ego represented a kind of rebirth. Hofer retains in his memory the erotic moments, experienced in the company of his mirror alter ego, until the next day in order to transfer them onto paper and insert them into a precisely outlined frame in the studio of a daytime social welfare institution in the Austrian city of Ried, near Linz. And while he can sketch his figures on paper in a few minutes, he needs hours to frame them. A certain kind of a scaffolding of lines helps him build structures which lock his figures into either confined or protective cages. The posture and gestures of the figures then tell us whether the personality in question is suppressed or triumphant. The way in which Hofer features these individuals is as astonishing as his perspective construction of space and flawless composition. He has managed to arrive spontaneously at the shortcut which many modern artists have strived for perennially. Hofer’s expression is so powerful that it tears down all barriers between the professional and the amateur, as it does between the oeuvres of “the normal” and “the disabled”.
The first Prague exhibition of Josef Hofer is the result of collaboration among the Austrian Cultural Forum, the civic association Inventura and the civic association ABCD.
ART BRUT – JUSTYNA MATYSIAK
15 November 2010 – 5 January 2011
Polish Institute, Malé náměstí 1 (entrance from Karlova ulice 27), Prague 1
The oeuvre of Polish artist Justyna Matysiak (31) has received numerous awards for its exceptional qualities. Among other things, the mentally disabled artist won the competition section of the international 2007 INSITA exhibition, i.e. the Triennial of Untrained Art, held in Bratislava. Her solo exhibition was organised within the framework of the same event this year.
Justyna Matysiak was born in 1979 in the Polish city of Poznań. She currently lives with her family in the Polish countryside. The ensuing lifestyle is also significantly reflected in her work – she loves to draw animals, but also human figures and architecture. Her drawings are fragile, almost disembodied, and they usually display a monochrome palette. They testify to the artist’s extraordinary aesthetic maturity which remains in a raw state – for it has never been moulded by any art education. Justyna Matysiak simply ranks amongst the most noteworthy phenomena in the field of contemporary Art Brut.
The first Prague exhibition of Justyna Matysiak is the result of collaboration between the civic associations Inventura and abcd.
9 October – 7 November 2010
Café Jericho, Opatovická 26, Prague 1
Lester Magoogan is a young man with a specific and original perspective on life. He captures the world and people around him in his minimalist yet evocative drawings, which have already been viewed by visitors to the Tate Modern as well as the Normal Festival 2008 and 2009. Now Lester Magoogan is presenting in the lively environment of Café Jericho.
Martin Mařák: Martians
4 October – 5 November 2010
Café Therapy, Školská 30, Prague and 1
Portraits of actors from Inventura Theater in the roles of Martians were made in 2009 when the protagonists began to prepare for the acting track through the photography of Martin Mařák. You can view the photographs over beer or coffee at Café Therapy, and you can follow the progress of the first Czech professional theatre troupe composed of actors and actresses with learning disabilities in their performance of The Little Prince on 19 November at Roxy/NoD.
Aleš Koudela: Our Planet is Earth-like
11 October – 1 November 2010
Kavárna Mlejn, Kampa
You can’t stop Aleš Koudela. You can’t silence him. You won’t misunderstand him. Give him a camera and, thanks to his fascination, he’ll return it to you in an hour with a full memory card. For his teachers, the 24-year-old autist is sometimes a catastrophe, but you can’t deny his creativity. He is interested in objects, phenomena and details about which others would not give a second thought. Aleš has captured the subjects of his interests in several photographic series, some of which are on display in the entry hall of Kavárna Mlejn.
Aleš about his exhibition:
When I was born I didn’t know how to take pictures. I think my parents taught me how to take pictures. I also used to go to a photography workshop. I enjoy photography. I like taking pictures because it’s interesting for me and I’m happy when others can see it. I like to photograph everything: people, landscapes – the sky is pretty too – plants, friends, and I also like photographing my family – everything, even animals. I also like to try out all the things the camera can do. This is my pretty exhibition, my first.