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Artlist — Center for Contemporary Arts Prague

Václav Kopecký

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About artist

The core of Kopecký’s work is an investigation of photography qua medium. He achieves this by taking traditional approaches to the medium and expanding them into material, spatial and temporal contexts. He uses an analogue camera, not for formal reasons, but because of its greater proximity to the founding principle of photography, i.e. capturing light rays on photo-sensitive film. This basic premise often seems to have been lost these days beneath a surplus of visual information. Kopecký returns to it ontologically and monitors it over the long term. However, his results are as much a work of adoration as they are an interrogation of photography and the consequences of its mechanical reproducibility.

As far back as Strop / Ceiling (2010) he was using the material properties of enlarged analogue photographs. The work is made up of three slightly different photographs of the Empire State Building in New York. These are stacked up in such a way that the upper photo is wrinkled because it does not fit onto the wall. The verticality and ambitiousness of the skyscraper is reinforced by its multiplication. The spatial treatment of a surface medium is monitored by a narrative commentary and the constant augmentation of production has its end. Včela z úlu pohledu (2010) is a formal game with a spatial dimension. The motif of the beehive is divided cubistically into facets that operate in different areas. However, it is only from one place that we are able to piece together a coherent picture. At the same time this is not so much about the hive itself but the relativisation of reality that photography offers. The hive serves as the bearer of these doubts. 

In these two works the starting point of Kopecký’s approach is revealed, the basis of which is a reflection of the objective world, whose time is brought into that of the viewer’s perception and therefore connotes an external reality. Bez názvu / Untitled (2011) combines distinct time segments. Using photographic emulsion and camera obscura a picture is created in the gallery of the photograph itself in real time. This work stands at the opposite extreme of most photography, which is characterised by its ease of transferability. It resembles more a painting, whose relationship to photography is mutually implicated. We find a similar approach in Nyní a zde / Now and Here (2011), which differs by virtue of the use of colour filters and rickety structures. It is with a clean conscience that we can call all this spatial painting with light. Nevertheless, the fundamental aspects and means of the photographic process are subject to patient examination, namely light, light-sensitive material and colour.

Another quality of Kopecký’s work is its sensitivity and its unobtrusive rumination. We find these features in a series of seven photographs entitled Teorie okamžiku / Theory of the Moment (2011). The series depicts the phases of a ball bouncing on a ping-ping table. Though its simplicity and its banal motif almost defy us to say anything more than what we see, we nevertheless feel that touch of poetic transience that snapshots can offer us. 

All these qualities are brought together in the long-term project Hotel Zenit (2011–2013), based on the construction of the Zenit Hotel in Bosnia and Herzegovina, operating as an intellectual and visual prototype of the series. Confused associations arise and sometimes the thread pulls while other times gaining in strength. The project was realised in several exhibitions and was accompanied by a certain delicacy. In Hotel Zenit at the Drdova Gallery (2012) photographs of waves crashing against rocks and a banal motif of flowers in cool tones with abstract colour photo paper exerts a precise yet subtle effect. Everything is closed with an objective black and white photo of four flags in front of the actual building of the Hotel Zenit. It seems as though the coloured reliefs are an abstract plane with nothing to say. In reality they represent the radical embodiment of objective photographs, since they capture the direct rays of light. The buildings might even seem to be a superfluous obstacle between reality and the source of light. The photographs of waves somehow hint at this movement between degrees of the abstraction of reality. Visual considerations are enclosed within the fact that the reliefs form associations with real flags. An associative intellectual and visual landscape is brought into being. 

The cycle Zkamenělina / Fossil (2014–2015) is a similarly free visual swirl. The central feature is a print that is shown in various forms. Kopecký tries to define the fundamental fragment of the technological process within the order of time and space. Regarding time, he begins with stones imprinted with fossils, the stone analogies of negatives. Old trees and their wrinkled bark have long been sensitive material for the capture of events taking place, including light. Flowers are silent witnesses to what is going on around, an imprint of the world on light-sensitive material. Shutter speed, the fraction of a second, is the most ephemeral point in these processes. The condensation of the time of an imprint can be perceived as a symbolic commentary on the place of man in nature. Photography, the proud invention of the human race, is simply a small rival to monumental natural processes. The walls of the House of Art in České Budějovice were painted in a light-sensitive emulsion for the exhibition Fossils (2014) and the artefacts seem like islands in an ongoing process. An environment is created in which time is layered and its relativity highlighted. It is as though it tells us telepathically that all time is composed of intimate times. When the same exhibition travelled to the Drdova Gallery a year later, Kopecký went even further and made a print of one exhibition – he exhibited an exhibition. This comprised rolled up photographs and catalogues, works hidden in a shell. We also find porcelain by Antonín Tomášek, bathed in a blue light, a reflection of the work of another artist, time, and space.

Author of the annotation
František Fekete



since 2013 University of Applied Arts in Prague, PhD.
2010 - 2012 Univeristy of Applied Arts in Prague, Studio of photography, Hynek Alt and Aleksandra Vajd
2006 - 2010 University of Jan Evangelista Usti nad Labem, Faculty of Art and Design, Studio of photography, Pavel Baňka
internships, creative residencies:
2012 residence in the Egon Schiele Art Centrum, Český Krumlov, CZ
2011 Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, Studio of Intermedia, Tomáš Vaněk
2009 University of Derby, Faculty of Arts, Design and Technology, Derby, United Kingdom


Solo exhibitions
Zkamenělina/Petrification, Drdova Gallery, Prague, CZ

Zkamenělina, Dům umění, České budějovice, CZ

Hotel Zenit - Reverse Wave, Kabinet Gallery, Brno, CZ

Hotel Zenit, Drdova Gallery, Prague
Still Life, the30gallery, Festival Fotograf, Prague
Neon (with Jiří Thýn), The Good-bye Gallery, Malsička hill, cemetery at Volyně, CZ
Hotel Zenit, 35m2 gallery, Prague

Fading light, growing shadow (with Pavel Baňka), Entrance Gallery, Prague
Untitled, Fotograf Gallery, Prague
Invisible Cube, M.odla gallery, Prague

As bee hive seen it / Včela z úlu v pohledu, Jelení Gallery, Prague
Group exhibitions not included in ARTLIST.
Kdo na moje místo, Galerie Plato, Ostrava, CZ
Nový zlínský salón Krajská galerie výtvarného umění ve Zlíně, CZ
Zdálo se ti o horách? III, České centrum Praha, CZ
Hast du von Bergen geträumt? II Tschechisches Zentrum Berlin, DE

Prague Biennale 6; Phototography,Reconstructed, curated by Pavel Vančát, Prague, CZ

Hidden River, DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague
6th Zlín Youth Salon, Zlín House of Arts, Zlín, CZ

Finalists of EXIT Award, Emil Filla Gallery, Ústí nad Labem, CZ
The Exhibition 2011, curated by Karel Císař, Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, Prague
Magic circle (annual exhibition of the department of photography of Pavel Baňka), Emil Filla
Gallery, Ústí nad Labem, CZ
In Optima Forma, Emil Filla Gallery, Ústí and Labem, CZ

Collected reflections, curated by Edith Jeřábková, Entrance Gallery, Prague
One day you will lose it all, curated by Markéta Kinterová, 4+4 Days in Motion, 15th
Performing Arts Festival, Prague
Making worlds, Emil Filla Gallery, Ústí and Labem, CZ
Notes to the Subject (with Veronika Daňhelová), Školská 28 Communication space, Prague

Gedanken Zur Revolution, Part 03 “Art & Politics”, Leipzig, DE
Body, Old Brewery Gallery, Brno, CZ
Second shift, Armaturka gallery, Ústí nad Labem, CZ


Center for Contemporary Arts Prague www.fcca.cz 2006–2018
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