East Contemporary

City Gallery Prague: Michaela Velova Maupicova “1982-2018”

Prague, Colloredo-Mansfeld Palace, May 8 – August 29, 2019, http://www.ghmp.cz

The title of the exhibition pointed towards the reasons of the show, the early departure of the artist from our world, and it in that way it set the frame. The exhibition presented a survey of the oeuvre of Michaela Maupicova.

Ninety per cent of the works were in toned down colors or even monotone black and white, and their common denominator was the focus on repetitive graphical structures. Only the first room of the exhibition was populated with additional sculptural works. These scultptrures appeared as a kind of one-off, maybe the result of a specific commission or sculpture workshop, unrelated to the graphic works on display. Nevertheless they were a pleasant variation to what otherwise would appear a bit too monotonous.

The main body of work showed a specific interest, almost an obsession with graphical structures. One thing to remark about these painted-drawn structures is that the were always hand-made: Maybe a stencil or ruler was used at some point, but the final layer always appeared slightly imperfect, with individual brush strokes visible.

Sometimes the painted structure awakened to a life on its own and produced a trompe-l’œil 3D effect. In this situations, I felt a fascination with the effect produced, an aesthetic pleasure over the beauty of the structure. The beauty flourished the most when executed in pastel colors. These works seemed to be those from the more recent, later, period of the artist´s work.

One video in the exhibition appeared to me as the key to Maupicova´s endeavor. It was a short loop, probably around 30 seconds. It showed a close-up of a moving escalator, specifically the moment when the previously level steps start to protrude from the moving plane at the beginning of the escalator and morph into the shape of a moving staircase. The repetitive metal planes, out of which the steps consist, overlapped with the interference caused by the interlaced nature of the DV-PAL video signal used to record the movement. This was a very close, detailed observation, and at first sight this video could be easily dismissed. However, it gained enormous significance against the backdrop of Maupicova´s panted works. It is a significance that is difficult to express in words, but one that can best be expressed in the way that Maupicova did – through visual representation and graphical experiments.

I did not find Maupicova´s artistic endeavor easy to access. The works appear detached from the daily reality of human relations and concerns. It is not easy to verbalize the two-dimensional graphical structures that were the object of her artistic investigation. They are something that most of us will take for granted. These structures are simply “there”. Nevertheless, after spending some time with the works, I can say that there is “something” in her works, something worth looking for a second time, or maybe for a third time. By trying to see the world through Maupicova´s eyes our attention gets redirected. Maybe something more is there. There somewhere. Maybe.

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