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Petr Nikl’s Flowers, Fish, Scorpions in Chinese ink on Rice paper

Let us look at the painting and allow it to affect us like air, sun, fragrance ... forget about the world we have just departed ... said the artist Jan Křížek. Thus to perceive art is liberating — art is there for anyone, without distinction, who is open enough to receive it. But what if we don't even know what to do with a specific work? The question arises whether or not we are dealing with a work of art at all? Do we not approach the works of a renowned artist with exaggerated respect while he makes fun of us?

 

If you let the works of Petr Nikl affect you, you will find yourself in the realm of plants and animals, in worlds both New (America) and fairy tale-like, in a universe where the time of childhood and adulthood flows differently than you are used to. You will meet a creature of time, a herdsman, a troubadour, a praying mantis or a waterman, but not a deceiver. In Nikl’s work you will find meticulousness and sophistication. Thanks to that, his work is believable, but not naive. Nikl tests the movement between life and dream, the rule of the game and randomness in time and (gallery) space, which inspires rather than limits it. Painting, drawing, poem, song, installation or performance are mere drawers that open in Nikl’s larder. From this he feeds our (childlike) soul with the seriousness of a clown.

 

An adult is ill when the part responsible for emotion atrophies; when he does not understand that a game of tag or marbles is as important as practicing one’s profession — whether doctor or baker; when he does not realize that a bird is more important than an airplane. If Petr Nikl was an animal, he would want to be a butterfly — crawling half his life on his stomach and flying for the other half. As a human being, he at least moves between creation in which spontaneous growth predominates and that which is driven by will.

 

He designated two separate spaces in his studio. While in one he develops his academic education, painting techniques and vision, in the other he instead surrenders to randomness — on an inclined laminate board he sets in motion ink on rice paper and then tries not to direct it to the extent that his head and hands allow. And what he is not allowed remains the pigment itself because you can't guide it as much anyway. Nikl’s movement from room to room, from the will to the will not to affect anything, creates a wonderful inner calm.

 

Despite all the disadvantages of the tasteless and odorless Internet, it is better to present the artist’s various tentacles on it than, for instance, on paper. This time, we present his work that intentionally carries the author's handwriting writ small. Space is given to mechanical cockroaches and similar battery operated or windup toys and ink on rice paper. I chose a third of about two hundred ink and beetle paintings that Petr Nikl has created so far. To the ink drawings he adds:

 

Patterns are formed quickly during a single pouring and drying (of ink). They are a record of the time of bleeding and cannot withstand additional adjustments. I must not imagine them in advance or they will not appear. The fluidity mocks me. The blot will stiffen up. The head of a cat I did not plan. A fish I did not dream up (...). They are not my motifs; I do not feel handwritten authorship toward them. I was just there, while they were growing. This makes them seem more real to me. (...) I feel intense excitement at the surprise when the shapes I did not think up arise. What does it mean? Is it fatigue from my thinking? The ease of harvesting random shapes? An escape from oneself? The enchantment with natural growth? Another discovery of America? The simple joy of imagination? I don't know.

 

You do not have to understand everything. Reason does not rule us anyway, just as Petr Nikl does not rule the ink on the rice paper he brought from China years ago. Ink stains grow spontaneously, mature independently — they do not ape anything, do not compete, they are uniquely charming, even purposeful. They are the bearers of the amazement with which Petr Nikl observes himself and the world. Together they form a kind of atlas of spots through which we can get closer to worlds that are cosmically distant yet familiar. Some ink stains resemble scenes from a microworld, but their creator deliberately let them grow to the size of a person. Man does not appear to be the master of creation, but himself a living point between heaven and earth.

 

Everything far away is near,

when the forests bloom in autumn.

And we are alone.

I come out of the hut—

mountains, blue mountains,

white clouds, old acquaintances,

greet me,

me, the living point between heaven, earth:

they are waiting for me among the pines.

(Songs of Ancient China, Autumn Morning in the Mountains, Li Po, translated and arranged by Bohumil Mathesius and Jaroslav Průšek)
Pavlína Bartoňová

Foto: Milan Novotný, Oto Palán



Petr Nikl

8. 11. 1960

Petr Nikl was born on November 8th, 1960 in Zlín, Czech Republic. He works in painting, drawing, graphic art, illustration, poetry, installation, performance art, and music. He studied at the School of Applied Arts in Uherské Hradiště (1976–80) and the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague in the Studio of Painting under Professor Arnošt Paderlík (1981–87). In 1985 he co-founded the puppet association Mehedaha. Between 1987 and 1991 he was a member of the Tvrdohlaví art group. In 1995 he received the Jindřich Chalupecký Award for visual artists under 35. He lives and works in Prague and New York.

Prizes
2007    Golden Ribbon, Prize of the Minister of Culture for the Most Beautiful Book, Magnesia litera, Záhádky, Meander Pub.
2006    Golden Ribbon, Lingvistické pohádky, Meander Pub.
2005    Golden Angel, CD Nebojím se smrtihlava, Blackpoint muzic Pub.
2002    Prize of the Minister of Culture for the Most Beautiful Book, Rybaba and the SeaSoul, Meander Pub.
2001    Prize of the Minister of Culture for the Most Beautiful Book, illlustrations of Fairy Tales by Oscar Wilde, Aulos Pub.
1998    Prize for Absurd Humor, Ypsilon Theatre
1997    Prize of the Minister of Culture for the Most Beautiful Book, Expulsion from Paradise, Divus Pub.
1995   Jindrich Chalupecky Prize Winner

Residencies

2004   Ecole supérieure des beaux-arts, Marseille, France
2003   Mikulov Visual Arts Workshop 03, Mikulov
2001   Mikulov Visual Arts Workshop 01, Mikulov
1996   Headlands Center for the Arts, CA, USA

Selected solo exhibitions

2016   Pijavice, Vaclav Spala Gallery, Prague

           Brown pictures, Gallery 8, Prague

           Pro mě na, Galerie Hollar, Prague
2015   Časosběry, Plzeň  Gallery

           Dialogue With  My Mother, Trutnov Gallery

2014   The faces from New York, Fait Gallery, Brno

           The Cockroaches, Pellé Gallery, Prague

           Naprášené obrazy, Galerie 1. patro, Prague.

2013   Dialogue With  My Mother, Czech Center, Milano

           The game of time, GhmP, Prague

2012   The faces from New York, Wortnerův dům, Alšova jihočeská galerie, České Budějovice

           I am your hare, Wanieck Gallery. Brno

2011   Dialogue With  My Mother, Czech Center, Paris

2010   Drawings From the NewWorld, Galerie Havelka, Prague

           Dialogue With  My Mother, Regional Gallery in Zlín, Star Summer Palace, Prague

2009   Faces, Galerie Via Art, Prague

           Fools, Galerie Mona Lisa, Olomouc

2008   The Conches, Sablé-sur-Sarthe, France

           The Labyrintes, Gallery Moderna, Prague

           Automatic works, Gallery Blansko

2007   The Conches, Granary Gallery, Valašské Meziříčí

           The Pleasure, Gallery of Czech Insurance Company, Prague.

2006   Meadow of Nostalgy, Vrchlabí Gallery

           Anna and the Frog, Czech Centre in Vienna

           The Conches, Gallery of Visual Arts in Pardubice

           The Conches, Gallery of Visual Arts in Jihlava

           Wandering Fisherman, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

           Soul Etude, The Abbatoir, London, England

2005   Curtains, Gambit Gallery, Prague

           Black paintings, Gallery of Visual Arts in Opava

2004   Freaks?, Rue Montgrand gallery, Marseille, France

           My Friends, City Gallery Špejchar in Chomutov

           The Garden, Gallery Šternberk

2003  Freaks, The Heardheads Gallery, Prague (together with David Walliker)
          Garden, Gallery 36, Kiev, the Ukraine

2002  Broken Fairy Tale, Mustasaari Gallery, Oulu, Finland

2001  Paintings, Drawings, Neue Rathaus, Weiden, Germany

1999  Parrot Heading Out to the Cosmic Space, Vaclav Spala Gallery, Prague

1998  Broken Tale, Gallery at the White Unicorn, Klatovy

          As a Butterfly, National Gallery in Prague - Veletrzni Palace

1996  My Saints, Czech Cultural Center, Berlin, Germany

          Jindrich Chalupecky Prize, Vaclav Spala Gallery, Prague

1995  Little Rooms, Aspekt Gallery, Brno

1994  Sacred Mask, Window Gallery, British Council, Prague

1993  Died Toys, MXM Gallery, Prague

1992  Paintings, Objects, Sechzig Gallery, Feldkirch, Austria

1991  Time, La Coupole Gallery, Neu-Isenburg, Germany

1987  Paintings, Cultural Center Blatiny, Pragueieck

Selected group exhibitions

2015  The Heart of Europe, Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China

2014  Lone Rangers, Galerie 1. patro, Prague

2013  Lone Rangers, Frameless Gallery, London

2011  Fundamenty sedimenty, GHMP, Prague

          80. ears, Wanieck Gallery, Brno

2010  Czech Art, Galerie Dabubiána, Bratislava

2009  14 S, My Europe, DOX Center for Contemporary Art, Prague

2008  The Stubborn after 20 years, Středočeské Muzeum Visual arts Praha

2007  The Stubborn after 20 years, Gallery of Visual arts in Ostrava

2005  And What Are You Thinking About?, Prague City Gallery

2004  Light, Museum of Applied Arts, Brno

2003 Corps inventes, Besancon, France
         Art dans la ville, St Etienne, France
         Prague, d‘un printemps a l’authre, l’Ecole d’art de Belfort, France

2001 New Connection, Contemporary  Art from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, World Financial Center, New York, USA                       2000 Stories fromtheMid-Land, Bergen, Norway
1997 The Dawn of Magicians, National Gallery in Prague - Veletrzni Palace
          Biennial of Young Art, Cetinia, Yugoslavia

1995 Fly MayBug, Fly, anti-aircraft shelter, Cologne, Germany

         Distant Voices, South London Gallery, London, Edinburgh, Southampton, UK

1993  New Painting of Eastern Europe, Galerie de Arte Detursa, Madrid, Spain

1992  The Stubborn, City Library, Prague

          Seven Artists from Prague, Akademie, Brussels, Belgium 
          The Stubborn, Arhus Kunstbygning, Arhus, Denmark
          The Stubborn, Grand Huit, Theatre National de Bretagne, Rennes, France

1987  The Stubborn, Lidovy dum, Prague

Conception of the interactive exhibition

2016   Orbis  Pictus, Castel Zlín

2015   Orbis  Pictus, Klášter na Karmeli, Mladá Boleslav

2014   Play, textil factory Veba Broumov

2013   Play, Malostranská Beseda, Prague

           Play, Sladovna Písek

           Krystaliza Play, Spilberk, Brno

2012   Sinnes rausch, Imookulturquartier, Linz, Austria

2011   Play, Technical Muzeum Brno, Techmánia Pilsen

2010   Play, Mánes, Prague,

           Labyrinth of Light, House of Art, Ostrava

           Paper Play, Czech Center, Prague,

2009   Orbis Pictus, Brussels, Belgie, Sofia, Bulharsko

           Labyrinth of Light, Old Sewage Cleaning Station, Prague

           Paper Play, Liberec Library, House of Artists, Moscow

2008   Mins Michal, Ostrava, Bazilic kultural center České Budějovice

           Telus world of Science, Vancouver Canada

2007   Orbis Pictus, Czech muzeum of Muzic, Prague, Art Gallery Brno

           Rotunda Kroměříž, Gallery of Visual Arts, Opava

           Limonaia di Villa Strozzi, Firenze, Italy                  

2006   Orbis Pictus, Czech Centre in Paris

2005   EXPO 2005, Aichi, Japan, Pavilion ofthe Czech Republic

2000   Nests of Games, Rudolfinum Gallery, Prague

Theater & Performances

1985   About 300 marionette and visual performances in theaters, galleries and alternative

2004  spaces including exteriors

1998   J. J. Ryba: Czech Christmas Mass, decoration and costumes, State Opera, Prague

1994   Opera La Serra, decoration and costumes, Archa Theater, Prague

Selected performances from recent years

2016  Swirling Cockroaches, Theater Archa, Prague

2014  Koncert of Educative, Theater Archa, Prague

2012  Vlci v srdci, Theater Archa, Prague

2011  I am your hare. Theater Archa, Prague

2010  Festive POP, With Ondřej Smeykal, Milan Cais and  Jiří Hradil

2008  Rottermammer, With theater Labor and Krepsko, Bielefeld, Germany

2007  Water Dances, Dresden, germany

2006  Wandering Fisherman, Madrid, Espania

          Dance of  The Toys, Jelení Gora, Poland

          Soul Etude, The Abbatoir, London, England, (with Balanescu quartet)

2005  Dance of The Toys, Theatre Archa, Prague

          Stabat mater, Puppet´s balet, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

          Dreams, Theatre Brett, Wiena

          Shadows, Theatre Archa, Prague

          Water Dances, Theaterlabor, Bielefeld, Germany      

2004  Water Dances, Arcola Theatre, London, UK

2003  Water Dances, Festival Homo Novus, Riga, Latvia

          Water Dances, Espace Planoise, Besancon, France

          Days of Czech Culture, Athens, Greece

2002  The White Submarine, “seeyuatthepremierefair“ festival, Berlin, Germany

Sea-Weed Dances, Oulu, Finland

Second Hand Twilight, together with artists from South Africa, Archa Theater, Prague, Zlin Theatre Festival, Hradec Kralove, Pardubice, Roznov pod Radhostem

Puppet Theatre Festival, Chrudim

             Second Hand Twilight, Czech Embassy in Washington, D.C., USA

1999    Behind the Mirror, together with artists from South Africa, Archa Theater, Prague

            Ars Alchymia festival, Theater at Celetná, Prague

1997    Upside Down, Scorpion is Crawling over Me, Archa Theater, Prague

            Solstice, Festival Arts Alive, Johannesburg, South Africa

            Days of Prague in Kyoto, Japan

            FLIP - series of audio-visual performances, National Gallery in Prague

1996    The Circus, Bread&Puppet Theater, Vermont, USA

            PS122, Jim Henson Festival, New York, USA

1995    Distant Voices, South London Gallery, London, UK

Film

2007    Requiem , Live Puppets film for W.A. Mozart muzic, 52 minutes

Author´s books

2016    Slovohledě, Meander Publishing

2013    Kudlanka čas, noty mollové, Malvern Publishing

            Foukací pohádky, Meander Publishing

            The game of time, Arbor Vitae Publishing

2012    Divňáci z New Yorku, Meander Publishing

            I am your hare, Wanieck Gallery

2011    The Yellow Lions, Meander Publishing

2010    Přeshádky, Meander Publishing

2009    Little Fool, Meander Publishing

2008    Stags and Similar Creatures, Meander Publishing

2007    Záhádky, Meander Publishing

2006    Linguistic Tales, Meander Publishing

2002    Rybaba and The Sea Soul, Meander Publishing

2001    A fairy tale about a Wefish named Rybitinka, Meander Publishing

2001    Atlas-salta, Aulos Publishing

1997    Expulsion From Paradise, Divus Publishing

Music recording

2016    Vosa

2013    Kudlanka čas, Malvern Publishing

2013    Noty mollové, Malvern Publishing

2008    Fish Songs, Meander Publishing

            Stags and Similar Creatures, Meander Publishing

2006    Přesletec, Blackpoint muzic Publishing

2004    Don´t Fear the Deathś  head, Blackpoint muzic Publishing

Representation in Collections

National Gallery in Prague, Mikolas Ales Gallery of Southern Bohemia, State Gallery in Zlin, City Gallery of Prague, Gallery of Visual Arts in Olomouc, Gallery of Visual Arts in Karlovy Vary, Moravian Gallery in Brno, the Foundation for Contemporary Art Collection in Prague, Gallery Klatovy - Klenova, Gallery of Visual Arts in Liberec, Gallery of Visual Arts in Litomerice, Gallery of visual Artsin Jihlava, Gallery of Visual Arts Hradec Králové,Gallery Audabiag and private collections both in the Czech Republic and abroad.

 

Selected artworks




Let us look at the painting and allow it to affect us like air, sun, fragrance ... forget about the world we have just departed ... said the artist Jan Křížek. Thus to perceive art is liberating — art is there for anyone, without distinction, who is open enough to ... more

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