Viktorie Valocká

  • b. 1988
  • Currently in Prague , Czech Republic.


Valocká is suspicious, perhaps even anxiously so, of contemporary artis-
tic trends, and her relationship to the craft in her work can
thus seem romantically uncritical. Critique, as I mentioned before, is not the dominant program of the artists we selected, but despite this, we do feel that in Valocká’s work,
and perhaps also her attitudes, a certain kind of critique is present. She believes that the subject, with its imaginative potential, can change the values of society more than the calculated strategies of which we are the victims in our economic and political system. To imitate these systems in art makes no sense to her. Art has a certain autonomy; it involves not just our system of rational thought, but above
all, our subconscious processes and senses, and knows other ways to have an effect. It is thus no coincidence that she shares some of her formal foundations with Artificialism and Poetism, more with the works of Jindřich Štýrský than Karel Teige – and their conflict between the avantgarde and autonomous conceptions of art perhaps
have a distant echo in Valocká. The elements of Lyrical Abstraction, whose chewed-up forms remain in the memories of an older generation of Czechs from the tapestries
and ceramic walls of socialist realist public buildings, here do not allow any inspiration that is uncritical or sentimental. Her relationship to the public sphere is underscored by numerous references to graffiti and British grime music.
This kneading of various approaches, movements, times, and styles; of forms and symbols; the fragile and the raw; the lyrical and the crude; the abstract and the self-evident; and lines and areas is significantly bolstered by her experimentation with technologies and materials. Even in her approach to painting, Valocká proceeds primarily from the medium of collage, to which she devoted herself while still in school. I remember, for example, a series of collages in which she used fragments in several variations of brown attained from baking parchment paper. Recently, Valocká has been working for a long pe- riod of time on an extensive cycle – or rather, cycles – of textile imag- es created from exploiting more and more possibilities of tie-dye. The fabrics, which, at the hands of the artist, undergo a long process of soaking, boiling, wringing, folding, drying, bleaching, waxing, ironing, and dyeing, already have a past life. Valocká is not interested in new terrycloth bedsheets, but collects sheets that carry a piece of history, their own drawing or painting, which then combine in an accelerated artistic process. This reminds me of Ruskin’s rather commanding view of products made by machine, which we can certainly, with a grain of salt, apply here: “Dead things communicate their deadness to those who use them.” Valocká uses materials – bedsheets – with traces of life. In an earlier series, she placed them directly on a wall, and the imprecision of their form heightened the tension between the image and a fabric that references physicality through its original purpose, which, as it turns out, is not entirely lost through the artist’s intervention. The material used in the work can also serve the body, but its visuality wins out, so it will only represent and suggest the body on the wall of a gallery or a home. At present, Valocká, seeming to accept this fact, has decided to anchor the fabric in a more stable way by hanging it on a rod that also reveals the other side of the piece to the viewer; this, again, makes the processual aspect of the work more accessible.

The almost alchemical approach of creating a work in a pot (not entirely, of course) is typical for Valocká not just in its process, but also in its formal aspects, which link varied, but not arbitrary, sources in collage-style assembling and layering (even in the case of coloring, bleaching, and painting fabric), sometimes on the principle of contrast. This contributes to the images’ ultimate expressivity and to their often darker coloring, which foists their set form on the senses and emotions of the viewer. This “culinary” approach to artistic creation, to make light of it, cannot help but evoke the feminist experiments of the 1960s, and even though the majority of Czech female artists from the postwar generation through the present reject feminism in their work, this link can be found in Valocká’s work. After all, she herself admits an affinity to several artists who are spoken of as part of the feminist discourse in this country, primarily by curator and theoretician Martina Pachmanová. Valocká, in her master’s thesis, writes: “A great source of initiative for me was the exhibition Grey Gold at the Brno House of Arts. The exhibition surveyed the recent works of Czech and Slovak female artists who emerged on the artistic scene after World War II and in the fifties and sixties. Daisy Mrázková and her abstract drawings, automatic and intuitive; Ludmila Padrtová and her paintings on textile; and Eva Cisárová-Mináriková’s large felt book. The latter two strengthened me in the way I naturally treat fabric. I appreciate the continuity of these artists’ focused work irrespective of trends of the period and tendencies that come and go. I was also influenced by an exhibition of designer Iva Vodrážková, who creates images by stitching together various patterned textiles.” That Viktorie Valocká’s work is not merely a display of private, reclusive imagination is also evidenced by her publication – several years ago, while still at school – of the beloved fanzine Victory, “a magazine for people interested in information”.

An excerpt from text by Edith Jeřábková