19 Jan 2023 – 4 Mar 2023

Regular hours

10:00 – 19:00
10:00 – 19:00
11:00 – 16:00
10:00 – 19:00
10:00 – 19:00

Free admission

Save Event: Adéla JANSKÁ

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We often navigate life with a selective gaze, especially when it comes to interpersonal events. This selection is an indispensable mechanism against sensory overload, and therefore fundamental to the interpretation of experience by distinguishing between the known and the unknown. But what happens once this defence algorithm is suppressed? The paintings of Adéla Janská (* 1981 in Olomouc, Czech Republic) instinctively elude the restriction of such perception limitations: The artist generates a space where the known blurs with the unknown, where being and non-being collide, where sensual experience is commutative to the sensation of a déjà vu.

This effect is abundantly manifest in Janská's first solo exhibition in Vienna: Who are these women? Haven't I met them before? All these visual entities of femininity, inhabitants of a virtual world that opens behind the walls of KOENIG2, look somewhat familiar. I suddenly feel being surrounded by acquaintances, distant relatives of another time and realm. As if through windows, they investigate my presence but do not appear to want to transcend the limiting barrier parting our realities. Infused with their magical ability to suspend time and space, to touch without physical interaction, it quickly becomes evident: These paintings are not portraits, they are depictions of collective female profiles. By fusing the general physical with the individual psychological, Janská generates an unprecedented potential for the visual representation of femininity: The material status of the subjects, their corporeality, is abstracted in the ideational realm to the mere representation of their concept, while their form is concretized through the same process.

Thus, Janká's women are transformed from banal vehicles of individual mimesis to semantic holders of common meaning, with an element of ambivalence mixed into their pseudo-portraits: A narration that shines almost invisibly through what is depicted, evoking mixed feelings, irritating and reassuring at the same time. Sensing that hidden world of sentiment and experience which is usually only partially channeled through external attributes such as attitude, gestures and physiognomy, I feel like within these women, Mephisto unites with Gretchen: Passively static daintiness and elegance are tempered by a distinctive awareness, a disposition to aggressively activate themselves at any time.

However, it is not only their aura that mystifies: Glossy, porcelain-like veils adapted to the women's faces not only endows them with a glossy, radiant glow, but an individual vigor and solidity that is simultaneously ambivalently fragile. These shiny masks slur overly specific facial features and imperfections, while intensifying the expressive contrasts between the unified faces and the surroundings of our and their virtuality, taken by expressive, flowing colors. Here we can discern the artist's trove of materials and references: Porcelain figurines from her personal collection and photographs amalgamate to form a mental collage before materializing in a medium foreign to them.

If we look deep into the eyes of these women, the experience of a volatile intimacy dawns but evaporates before it becomes palpable. And at the crest of this meandering experience, I realize that I have indeed met Janská's women before: They are my mother, my sister, my friend, my coworker, the woman wandering the streets, the girl I saw at the bus stop earlier today. They are you and me. 

Text: Teresa Kamencek, Vienna, 2023

Exhibiting artistsToggle

Adéla Janská


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