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Students and a New Style

Umělec magazine 2000/3


Lenka Lindaurová | info | en cs

Just shortly before the holidays, exhibitions by art students gradually started popping up in Prague. Within a short time, three schools had graduations and opened class shows: the Fine Arts Academy, Decorative Arts College and one studio at J. E. Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem. At the end of June, the Sources of New Style exhibition joined this group. It was put together by the recent graduates of the Fine Arts Academy, who ambitiously presented a generation statement, yet not through the works of its members; instead they used the inspiration of toys.
What can be deduced from such events, if anything, as they were more like salons, or shows with various studios, works completely different in their foundation and intention? While it is necessary to show the public results of student assignments, in some cases (two exhibitions of the Fine Arts Academy at Mánes Gallery and the Industrial Palace) the exposition was conceived as a conceptual exhibition; in the case of the toys it was actually a generation concept.
A very subjective survey of the terrain may result in the following observations.
The exhibitions presented works of surprisingly varied quality. There is still the obvious influence of professors (even if unintended). The latest generation does not feel the need to deal with heavy issues, avoiding political topics. The lack of any courage at making a significant or radical stance is mostly seen as ironic distance. A thick sediment of conservatism is still keeping a firm grip on the schools. Students do not form groups; they do not feel the need for a collective gesture. They are dry. Their humor is a bit clinical. The perfectionist technical rendition of work has been replaced by the ”model-kit” style, or simulated with good crafts. The works exhibited show effort, yet sometimes they lack originality. The Decorative Arts College appears to be more fun than the Academy. Professors should devote more attention to the graduating students. The students should take part in the exhibition concept.
Only students from the Kurt Gebauer studio at the Decorative Arts College dived into political issues as they deconstructed Europe in the town of Neratovice. Stanislav Zámečník and Karolína Bílková were the best of the bunch.
Some other tips for young artists to watch out for include Juraj Dudáš, Jitka Havlíčková, Radek Václavík, and Jesper Alvaer.
The generation statement about the sources for a new style complements the previous observations with further qualities of the latest art: it is indeed rather infantile, which is not saying anything against it, but this attribute is significant for this ”new style.” Possibly, it belongs to this generation and the post-socialist era. This just confirms contemporary art’s tendency towards closing itself into a private sphere of one’s own traumas, and somewhat nostalgic memories. Toys as a source for a new style would be an interesting theme, only if it was conceived in a truly confrontational manner, like including the works from which it draws.



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