Galerie moderního umění
v Hradci Králové

The Last Fifty Years | Permanent exhibition

curator: Tomáš Pospiszyl
architectural plan: Tomáš Svoboda
graphic design: Cindy Kutíková & Jiří Mocek

Contemporary art doesn’t have a history, yet. It therefore doesn’t make sense to tell its story in a chronological order. Rather, it makes sense to tell it thematically, with an emphasis on the diversity of approaches by individual artists to their work and to art in general. The exhibition of contemporary art at the Gallery of Modern Art in Hradec Králové is strongly connected to its recent acquisitions. It presents artists from the middle and younger generations, who have been making their way into public collections only recently.

We consider the era of contemporary art to have its beginning in the 1960s and 1970s. An important aspect of its origin was the development of conceptual art and a growing numbers of genres and subject matters. It is impossible to identify a uniform style in contemporary art. Every artist creates his or her own language. They do not express themselves merely through painting or sculpting but, increasingly, through photography, performance, film, video, text, digital technologies, and many other mediums.

Last Century – Twenty Artists | Permanent exhibition

curator: Petra Příkazská
expert advisors: Kateřina Křížkovská, Judita Kožíšková, Anna Zemanová
architectural plan: Tomáš Svoboda
graphic design: Cindy Kutíková & Jiří Mocek

The exhibition The Last Century – Twenty Artists consciously goes against this trend and returns to the age-old method of author-curated collections because, despite all doubt, 20th century art is ultimately the work of individuals who approached the question of art in their own personal ways. Each of the selected artists has expanded the possibilities of what can be seen, attempted to transgress the conventional wisdom of art, or nudged the perception of art beyond accepted standards.

In many cases, they did so not just through their work but also through their theoretical writings, personal engagement in the public sphere, or pedagogy.

Tapping the Egg: Columbus Then and Now

curator: Vjera Borozan

The story of Christopher Columbus, his epochal voyage, and his “discovery of a new continent” are among the founding myths of modern Western civilization. This story, based (among other things) on the study of historical sources, has found a place in history and geography textbooks. Many historical and adventure novels, paintings, prints, sculptures, films, operas, and plays have been dedicated to Columbus. His popularity grew especially in the 19th century and reached a peak at the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893), which celebrated the 400th anniversary of his “discovery”. The public image of Columbus began to change in the 20th century, especially after the Second World War, when anticolonial struggles produced new geopolitical and economic relationships. Gradually, all the things that had long been ignored and suppressed began to bubble to the surface of what had been a grand and triumphant story.

Today, amidst worldwide debate regarding the urgency
of decolonization, is an opportune time to explore the many questions associated with the subject of this exhibition. Its main focus is on Columbus’s representation in the Czech lands and in Czech culture, in particular in works of art created in or accessible to this geographic region from the 19th century until the present. Besides exploring what these works say about Columbus, we are interested in what they say about ourselves and about the ideas that we project onto them. The exhibition has been divided into several mutually interrelated sections.

Světlana Pavlíčková | Milieu

curator: Anna Horák Zemanová

Světlana Pavlíčková is an important artist from the Hradec Králové region. A lace designer, she here presents her work Milieu, an ongoing project spanning many years, in the space of the White Cube. Many pieces from milieu – whether in the form of an embroidered doily or an opulent tablecloth – are created with vintage or found objects and, as well as being a painstaking work, are testaments to personal experiences and stories, while offering a refuge from the world. Besides a fine sense of aesthetics, Světlana Pavlíčková’s work is characterized by her lace-making background, a love of textiles, and a desire to collect a variety of objects. The exhibition is complemented with statues by Karel Hyliš and Miloslav Chlupáč from the collection of the Hradec Králové Gallery.

The exhibition presents a complete overview of the artist’s understanding of textiles, which uses an approach that weaves together visual and material aspects with cultural, social, and historical themes. In her current work, Světlana Pavlíčková breaks the traditional rules of her own craft by using diverse combinations of materials and techniques. Through this process, she teaches herself that there is no such thing as a ‘wrong’ approach. She shows that every kind of material can be recycled and that one can select only what’s necessary from the techniques one learns, in order to tell a new story. She draws great inspiration from the Japanese Boro technique, sometimes called “the repair technique”. Since the 15th century, Japanese women have used this technique to extend the life of damaged clothing and linen. The years of fixes resulted in unique articles of clothing which told family stories going back several generations. Světlana Pavlíčková, too, is a lover of stories, which she herself invents, writes, and usually records in her textile creations. We can even find embroideries of messages written in the artist’s hand. Besides impersonal stories, the artist also includes her own diary entries and both happy and painful memories.

The artist’s process is not – as she herself says – conceptual. It begins with finding materials which she may have inherited, saved, received as a gift, or “hunted down” in second hand shops and sales. The departure points of her work are therefore collected, combined elements – various cloths, drawings, things made by her children and grand-children, and objects which caught her attention, but also the handicrafts of unknown artists, which she uses to create brand new objects.

Martin Zet | Cheap Statues


Sculptor, performance artist, and multimedia creator Martin Zet presents his video Cheap Statues (Laciné sochy, 1999) in the Black Box. Filmed in New York in 1999, the video is part of GMU’s Moving Image Collection. In the film, the author explores the similarity in form and absurd dissimilarity in content of skyscrapers and plastic bottles. The video shows plastic bottles being filled with hot water and comically keeling over against a background of skyscrapers. Today’s spectator might view the video through the lens of the events of 11 September 2001, which retrospectively imbue the video with another layer of meaning.

The video is supplemented by the work Crowns and Dollars (Koruny a Dolary, 1999–2022) – a wooden chest with Czech and American paper money on the lid. Zet cut each paper bill into the number of pieces corresponding to its monetary value. The fact that the greater the value of the bill, the smaller the pieces it must be cut into, may lead us to consider the relative value of money.

Martin Zet expresses himself in the form of performance art or digital and physical manipulation. His works, which don’t lack in humor, often react to political and social events and deal with history and the examination of the role of the artist.

Ladislav Jezbera | EGO

curator: Judita Kožíšková

The monumental and decorative Foyer of the Hradec Králové gallery used to be the entry hall of a bank. This space inspired Ladislav Jezbera to create an installation reacting to the monumentality of the entry hall as well as to the noble material used in its grandiose decoration – marble. The black-and-white annealing of the five-meter-long polyester blocks, from which he created three independent objects, is supposed to imitate the structure of the marble. Even the industrial mode of production used to create the blocks reminds one of the process through which marble forms in nature, including the accidental mixing of light and dark particles. The artist thus knowingly works with similarity and contrast between the marble paneling of the Foyer and the economically more accessible artificial material, the overproduction of which by “egocentric” humans is overwhelming the planet. It is as if, with their monumentality, the statues seek to compete with the entry hall. In the end, however, their “mimicry” causes them, rather, to blend into the space while also architecturally completing it and expanding the ways we can perceive it as spectators. The statues are ecologically and economically gentle – the borrowed, prefabricated polyester will be returned to the manufacturer after the end of the exhibition to be recycled.

LADISLAV JEZBERA (born 1976 Hořice v Podkrkonoší, Hradec Králové Region) is an important figure in contemporary Czech non-figural sculpting. He is inspired by geometrical art and minimalism, which he links to conceptual art. In his installations, he places emphasis on a dialogue with concrete exhibition spaces. The artist’s work alsobears a deeper meaning; with the help of mathematical equations and barely noticeable chemical and physical processes, which often take place in front of the spectator’s eyes (such as the spontaneous capillary rise of color in the marble block, or the corrosion of rock under the drip of lemon juice), the artist visualizes scientific discoveries, philosophical or sociological theories. Next to classic stone, he uses the specific qualities of recycled industrial materials, like plexiglass, plastic foam, used motor oil, soap or polyester