The Field of Love

Galerie mladých 15 05 — 15 06
Opening — 14 5 2024

Entering the installation by Štěpán Brož and Medard Zeman is like experiencing a lucid dream. The entire time we feel suspicious that nothing we see is real, but despite the distinct stylization of motifs we perceive the outlines of a familiar world in the paintings and objects. The ambiguity of the individual motifs forces us to wake up again and again, experiencing several possible stories in the same setting.

This ambiguity allows the duo Štěpán Brož and Medard Zeman to construct a world full of contradictions: lightness and darkness, sincerity and irony, or positive magical protective amulets in contrast to bubbling swamps and the omens of doom in an indefinite time. The intuitive fantasia of Štěpán Brož's painting motifs is thus mixed with insightful quotations from the history of landscape painting. Medard Zeman's imaginative objects and assemblages are post-ironic commentaries on the art world and the wider context in which it finds itself.

In exaggerating these elements, both artists and friends reference a shared predilection for hyperbolizing narrative. The installation of the individual paintings and objects themselves, which are admittedly side-lit and thus seemingly establish one viewpoint, in turn, cite the genre of historical dioramas. Instead of conveying an epic and heroic narrative of national history, however, they offer a vision of a slightly grotesque utopian world, ambiguously critical of our ideas, assumptions or beliefs.

The imaginative nature of the installation itself and its natural incentive for various interpretations in combination with humor reminded me of an image from the Slovak folk tale Ženský vtip (Women Joke), a variant of which is known in the Czech Republic as O chytré horákyni. As it happens in fairy tales, the poor but clever daughter of a peasant is given the task of walking/riding to a wedding neither day nor night, neither on foot nor in a cart,

neither on horseback nor on the road, neither dressed nor naked, and she is to bring a gift and not a gift. So the young woman arrives at dawn, that is, neither day nor night, sitting on a goat while still reaching the ground, thus "walking" along the track beside the road, dressed in a fisherman's net, and carrying as a gift two doves in her hands, which take flight at the moment of the bestowal.

Field of Love by Štěpán Brož and Medard Zeman is an exhibition that is both joint and individual, intuitive and conceptual, serious and exaggerated, referencing and denying genres, fantastic and realistic. It is a pig and an elephant, a hare and a kangaroo, a gas mask and an octopus tentacle, a dragon's tail and a portal, a truffle and a stone. But it is also an exhibition that is utterly honest in its ambiguity, in its freedom from simplistic indictments of the world, and not least in its inspiring admission of its own uncertainty.