Petra Vojteková

The title of the exhibition Detected landscape refers to the quest of update of dealing with the genre of landscape painting and of the landscape as such. The very broad framework of this update could be located in the new contemporary geological epoch of Anthropocene and the presence of all-encompassing technologies of detection and surveillance — whether that of satellite pictures or drone recordings. These changes in the global scope are connected to the deromanticizing of the natural landscape as such, as well as to its comprehension as a certain fluid space - not only geographical and geological, but also political, cultural and social one.
In her newest series, Petra Mešša continues to elaborate on the topic of the so-called banal landscape, this time in the media of painting, photography and video. She is not interested in the representation of the grand mountains covered in snow or of endless valleys, which were and without doubt are inspiring for existential sighs and folk or pop-music ditties. Petra chooses such views and fragments from the repertoire of landscape, in case of which nothing specific or shallowly picturesque appears on the first sight.
The artist creates the series, where the centre of attention occupies e.g. a puddle, a tree stump or a pile of wooden trash. These familiar and at the same time precisely unlocalizable objects and structures always bear an imprint of a human hand in themselves - at least as an index - somebody had to make the hole in the pavement, in which water stuck, to cut the tree to its ground.
A certain kaleidoscope of everydayness is being created, which due to the repetition of the motifs can paradoxically turn out in two different ways. On the one hand, these banal motifs can be elevated as symbols - puddle as a symbol of a natural cycle, tree stump as a symbol of time written in annual rings. On the other hand, these normally overlooked and aesthetically not-so-appealing pictures can appear as if they were lacking something. It is so because they are connected to the broader picture of the landscape in our memory, to another stimuli than visual ones only.
Petra departs from (or returns to?) realistic oil painting, that she wittily uses to render aforementioned banal motifs, to photography, paying sort of homage to genealogy of the landscape representation. Another stage (or register) of her representation of the landscape is video. Static camera prevents us to perceive more than a fragmentary picture chosen by the author. This picture is accompanied in this case with an essential further information - that of the sound, but stuck in one place while watching flowing waters into each other, one can only conclude: panta rhei - so what? Precisely this moment of fluidity, fleeing and realizing of the differences in these three different modes of representation and our position as a subject reflecting on our own position within the landscape, constitutes the framework of the detecting of the banal landscape by Petra.
The artist is aware of the fact that she is working with the pictures of Central-European landscape, geographically and aesthetically anchored in a continuity or opposition to tradition and at the same time in a lineage of thinking about landscape, coined by terms contemporary romanticism or constructive lyric (Mária Janušová). A certain contemplative aspect, simplicity of the motifs and their rendering is in intentional opposition to predominance of visual smog, although the artist’s approach to the material is heading towards more analytical searching of landscape, landscape, which is being touched, affected and detected.

Miroslava Urbanová