Antonie Stanová at Kvalitář Gallery

Artist: Antonie Stanová 

Title: I Tried to Tell Ya Something Through the Phone

Venue: Kvalitář Gallery, Prague

Curator: Monika Čejková

Photo: Studio Flusser

The exhibition I Tried to Tell Ya Something Through the Phone presents the artistic output of Czech painter Antonie Stanové, accompanied by the auditory work of Bohumila Grögerová, a writer, translator, and creative figure from an earlier Czech generation, who was connected with the experimental poetry movement.

Although the two artists never met and several generations separate their work, close parallels can be found in their methods of working with language and writing, particularly in their temptation to rearrange them. Stanová’s paintings are more written than painted, created as poetic diaries, and Grögerová constantly pushed the boundaries of literature in order to create visual or auditory works. This exhibition presents the canvases and poetry of Antonie Stanová, accompanied by Bohumila Grögerová’s radio play Just Breathe Now… Or, Dum Spero, Spiro, an almost Kafkaesque drama from 1975 in which a caller harasses and extorts the person on the other end of the phone line.

“The visual language I am currently working with originates in my first paintings from the period around 2015. At that time, I didn’t have a studio, and I had my stretched canvases at home. For about one month, I wrote various notes on them, so it was basically a form of diary entry. With my new paintings, I’m returning to my work with writing and pursuing connections with visual poetry. The difference is that whereas before I was working with writing’s concrete meanings and it was more legible overall, now I am focusing more on its visuality, asemantic position, and gestural qualities. So now it’s more about the act of writing itself and leaving marks than about their actual meaning as such. Thus, these characters and marks don’t necessarily have to resemble writing as we usually perceive it, but rather the principle of the “written image,” says Stanová.

Antonie Stanová’s paintings give a subconsciously pleasant impression. As the artist herself describes them, they are a kind of diary entry in which symbols and writing don’t necessarily create meaning. The images emerge from the recording of letters, short slogans, graphic symbols, typographic work, loosely incorporated pictograms, and mere fingerprints or palmprints. Rather, she touches and draws on the canvas in a way that is often reminiscent of automatic drawing or meaningless doodling. Stanová’s paintings evoke the works of Cy Twombly or some younger artists born in the 1950s (Albert Oehlen, Christopher Wool, Jonathan Lasker, Clem Crosby) as well as more contemporary artists such as those associated with Zombie Formalism, including Kerstin Brätsch, Florian Meisenberg, and David Ostrowski. In the works of some of the aforementioned artists, the asemantic writing or symbols are closely linked with drawing, becoming a key element in the hierarchy of the painting, and Stanová attaches a similar importance to drawing in her work.

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