The exhibition Zouwu is the first solo show by Helena Hladilová at SpazioA, in Pistoia. Opened on January 29th, 2022, the expositive project testifies to a new transformed and far-sighted vision in the artist’s practice, dictating unprecedented rhythms, narratives and outcomes. The show will be on view until March 12, 2022.
Hladilová’s eye searches around her for elements and objects that exist spontaneously in the world, in order to dedicate them a rearrangement procedure, using a methodology quite direct and objectual. As often happens, particular phases and biographical events determine a change in the approach to the context in which one is immersed, outlining a path made of previously unknown awareness and original points of view that become protagonists. The artist’s motherhood and a consequent period of pause from the actual production of artworks develop a lens oriented towards the inner sphere of the human, specifically aimed at the fantastic and wonderful universe of children’s mind. These creatures, natural organisms in all respects, become the filter for a renewed poetics, focused on the subjects and on a work that inevitably transforms itself into a more manual process.
Hladilová considers herself as a life creator and chooses to present to the public the daily dialogue that she establishes with those she has generated: the appointment with the bedtime story, which as a mother she invents for her children, reverberates on a thematic level in the works here presented and in a broader perspective on her own imagination. During childhood, the simplicity with which solutions and adaptations to circumstances are found is instinctive, while in adult life, intellectuals, and others, have emphasized the importance of a return to a thought untied to many superstructures, which are assimilated over time.
Thus, the artist takes her own steps in a borderland, a liminal territory between the imaginary and the real, realizing that she has to put the right distance in promoting a page of her intimate story to a wide audience. The depicted subjects from the told stories are initially sought in 3D. They are vector files sent as instructions to a marble processing machine equipped with robotic arms. This will be intitled of the realization of an initial rough-hewing of the profiles, it will follow a phase of manual and creative work entrusted to the artist, who now no longer relegates her amazement of discovery to what the world gives her after millennial processes, but to the combination of fantasy of the tale and stunning advances in technology.
Helena Hladilová brings together in this exhibition works ranging from bas-reliefs made of marbles and stones of various types, on which she often intervenes with watercolor, to experiments with bronze and slate tablets. This multiplicity of materials, sometimes isolated, others pushed to meet and contaminate each other, unfolds in the exhibition space in what can be defined, with and an oxymoron, as a real chaotic order. Installed at different heights, these artworks seem to follow the plot of a children’s tale, where the spatial-temporal coordinates thicken and tangle, and the metamorphosis is a constant. The narration sucks the viewer into its whirlpool of a sometimes-primordial wonder, who finds himself chasing the thread of history of the illustrations that Hladilová puts us on our path and that fragment the gait with the repeated opening of new windows. At the same time the plots force us to continue pursued by a desire for discovery and curiosity.
The depicted subjects, with their fairytale and monstrous traits, draw from the stories of popular folklore, recalled by the same titles. The almost sacred and ritual moment of the bedtime stories is exalted by the artist as necessary for the child’s and the adult’s life: a propitiatory moment for fears, anxieties, dark sides that the world presents every day, that in this way are exorcised and faced, creating contemporary scales of value, thanks to their projection in a place outside the earth’s coordinates. Hybridization and diversity are the cornerstones of this narrative, which tells us of adaptation and mutation, of reconfiguration and rebirth, like Hladilová herself who unites her dual social role as mother and artist. The messages conveyed in the project, while starting from an apparently superficial sphere, examine eternally current and essential dynamics, such as the domestic and work ones, their balances and the desired horizons of equality of the era we are living in.
On an aesthetic level, the artist shows off a captivating range of colors both in pastel tones and in the darker and “scary” ones. It also presents a detail that is impossible not to notice: in some bas-reliefs, the space between the sculpture and the wall that supports it, is inhabited by small details of creatures, such as legs or tails, which not only have the practical function of supporting in an upright way the work, but add a touch of surprise and unexpected.
The future of this poetics certainly fascinates, and one wonders what conjugations this descriptive alphabet might have, and how the artist will manage to connect other stories to new materials, in the next shows.
Helena Hladilová, Lelapo, 2021. White Carrara marble and watercolor, cm 18,5 x 26 x 3. Courtesy SpazioA, ph. Camilla Maria Santini
Helena Hladilová, Prach a broky, 2022. Granite, bronze, cm 12 x 253 x 7, detail. Courtesy SpazioA, ph. Camilla Maria Santini
Helena Hladilová, Bilikú, 2022. Alabaster marble, Travertino, bronze and watercolor, cm 45 x 43 x 9. Courtesy SpazioA, ph. Camilla Maria Santini
Helena Hladilová, Tanuki, 2021. White Carrara marble, Moresco Brown and watercolor, cm 37.5 x 55.5 x 9. Courtesy SpazioA, ph. Camilla Maria Santini
Graduated in Foreign languages, literatures and European artist cultures, she worked as a visitor assistant in some prestigious art museums and institutions in London, UK. Once back to Italy, Caterina obtained a Master degree in Contemporary Art Markets from NABA, Milan, while starting collaborations with contemporary art galleries with roles as gallery assistant and exhibitions coordinator. She writes for art magazines and has recently started to work as independent curator, after attending a course in curatorial practices at the School for Curatorial Studies, Venice.