Eva Koťátková

Meyer Riegger, Berlin

March 31, 2014

April 3–June 28, 2014

Presented by Art en Valise

Scrap Metal Gallery
11 Dublin St, Unit E
Toronto, Ontario
Canada

www.artenvalise.com

Art en Valise is thrilled to present Czech artist Eva Koťátková’s first solo exhibition in Canada. Bringing together drawing, collage, installation, sculpture and performance, the exhibition investigates Koťátková’s process of deconstructing traditional behavioral systems to produce fragmented models that invite alternative ways of communication.

The starting point for Koťátková’s work begins with her own immediate contact with imposed structures—family and school—that are crucial to, yet limiting to, the construction of human experience. Koťátková undermines and recontextualizes the values and mechanisms used to regulate our perception of the world, and, in turn, the way we perceive ourselves.

Koťátková’s work is grounded in her recollection of the transition from Communist rule to a parliamentary republic in Czechoslovakia, creating an archive of fragmented memories that the artist draws from continuously. Koťátková’s practice has expanded to include a revision of these social impositions and their effects, specifically unveiling the latent agony that haunts the individual and collective realities of those living within restrictive social orders. The work has become increasingly complex as Koťátková investigates unsuccessful attempts by the individual to integrate himself into concrete social structures. This failure often prompts a shift in identity that may lead to unanticipated results.  It is this unresolved emotional, physical and psychological space that interests the artist.

Koťátková has refined her own artistic vocabulary, employing the body and its endless articulations as the visual threshold for these explorations. Drawing from her index of memories, appropriated images and objects, Koťátková presents the body as both a physical and metaphysical weight-bearing force, at times appearing deformed or reformed by the burdens we inherit. The surrealist-inspired works on paper are comprised of bodies or isolated body parts bound to materials such as textbooks, furniture and architectural forms, drawing our attention to the constraints of history and space. Using an avant-garde surrealist approach to choreographing visual juxtapositions in order to set the unconscious adrift, Koťátková—also bound to her own experience—creates blueprints for possible new approaches to observing and behaving. Included in some of the images are hand-drawn arrows that subtly direct our gaze outward from the image and into the unknown.

Extending this surrealist sensibility and expanding notions of otherness, Koťátková creates awkward sculptural objects that appear as three-dimensional iterations of her works on paper. Her sculpture House Arrest. No.4 (2010) is a corset made of metal with various bookstands protruding from its base. The constraint associated with the corset is destabilized by the multitude of bookstands that offer the garment’s wearer agency to engage with multiple viewpoints. Likewise, a simple wheelchair is modified with fixed cage-like footrests and a suspended cage for one’s head. These additions enhance the confines of the wheelchair and challenge its function as a device that allows mobility for the immobile.

These pieces, in addition to others from various series, are assembled into a narrative that traces the arc of one’s life. Beginning with drawings from House Arrest (2010) and ending with the wheelchair sculpture from City of the Old (2010), this exhibition considers our trajectory towards freedom and the apparatuses that persistently threaten our process of self-realization. —Rui Mateus Amaral

Eva Koťátková (b. 1982, Czech Republic) lives and works in Prague. She studied at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts, at San Francisco Art Institute, California, and at the Akademie Bildenden Künste Wien (Vienna). Significant solo exhibitions have been held at Modern Art Oxford, Wrocław Contemporary Museum, and Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany (all 2013). Koťátková was invited to participate in the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), 18th Sydney Biennial (2012), 11th Biennale de Lyon (2011) and 6th Liverpool Biennial (2010).

Art en Valise would like to thank Meyer Riegger and Scrap Metal Gallery for their gracious support.