Anna Hulačová: Edible, Beautiful, Untamed | Jedlý, Krásný, Nezkrotný

23 April – 4 June 2022


 Installation view from the solo exhibition "Edible, Beautiful, Untamed", hunt kastner, Prague, 2022, foto: Michal Czanderle
 Installation view from the solo exhibition "Edible, Beautiful, Untamed", hunt kastner, Prague, 2022, foto: Ondřej Polák
 untitled (relief), from the series Edible, Beautiful, Untamed, 2022, concrete, ceramic, 150 x 100 x 15 cm
 untitled (relief), from the series Edible, Beautiful, Untamed, 2022, concrete, ceramic, 150 x 100 x 15 cm
Text k výstavě v češtině.
hunt kastner is very pleased to present our second solo exhibition in Prague by Anna Hulačová.  In this new body of work, entitled Edible, Beautiful, Untamed, the artist has created a futuristic vision of a cultivated landscape, a dystopian lyrical feral garden, that takes on a sci-fi metaphysical form of the world.  In a sculptural grouping composed of three motor-like concrete and ceramic sculptures and three plant-like fiberglass and wood sculptures, materiality manifests itself in a psycho-folk fusion – the organic becomes mechanical and the mechanical becomes biological. The paradoxical relationships and genetic transformations of organic bodies that arise due to biological and technological links give birth to an interdependent new ecosystem.
In her work, Hulačová has long been concerned about human impact on the rural landscape and she proposes its radical re-imagination. She explores biological and technological links and researches historical connections and causes while acknowledging the paradoxical relationships that arise from genetic transformations of organic, plant bodies. In her surrealistic dystopian paradise, phantasmagoric ‘alien’ concrete sculptures that resemble discarded farm machinery, are resurrected and transformed by the kind of plant life that grows and thrives in the perimeters of our landscape.
Our countryside consists of living plants as well as inanimate objects, which through their familiarity have changed our perception of what a natural landscape is. Not only habitat for living plants, cultivated and wild, the contemporary rural landscape is also teeming with mechanical objects – such as agro-machinery abandoned in the fields, relics of a utopian idea of agricultural collectivism, a model which failed in its very promises. The mutant motor sculptures created by Anna Hulačová, resemble the engines of harvesters and tractors that she often encounters during her walks in the countryside just outside of Prague, where she lives and works. Forgotten in place and time, these discarded technological, futuristic machines merge into the landscape, transformed by and into organic-plant material. Plants grow up inside of them and change their shape – animated ornamentation resurrecting the inanimate concrete material.
During her forays into the rural landscape, Hulačová also observes areas of uncultivated vegetation bordering the paths adjacent to the fields, poorly permeable areas overgrown with weeds, in particular prickly thistles. These untamed invasive plants thrive alongside the vast monocultural fields. While inedible, they are an important source of nectar for pollinators and their flowers have healing powers. Stretching across the landscape are also edible plants, crops planted for human consumption – wheat, which depends on constant human cultivation, being the most common. And along the paths nearer to human habitation one comes across beautiful plants, such as daffodils. Having escaped the confines of domesticated ornamental gardens, planned and controlled by humans, daffodils grow freely in the wild uncultivated spaces.
These three plants, representative of the contemporary cultural landscape, are the influencers of their environment. Due to their strong interactivity, they create a new ecosystem made up of mutually overlapping relationships between species, animate and inanimate beings, organisms, machinery, and the environment as well as the inter-relationship between nature, culture, and socio-political structures. Its idea is not only limited to the biosphere, machinery utopia, or binary oppositions and hermetic categories but functions as an empty void, creating myriad future possibilities.
In Hulačová’s world, nature is messy but endlessly admirable in its constant adaptability and creativity, even in the face of its own degradation. Organisms mutate to adapt to an increasingly inhospitable environment and our surroundings transform into a kind of sci-fi hybrid landscape. In her approach to art, Hulačová has always broken-down hierarchies. She uses subjects and materials traditionally associated with fine art in combination with that of applied and folk art across cultures, all in combination with contemporary media and aesthetics. Her choice of material does not privilege the hardy over the ephemeral – she works with concrete, but equally with straw or beeswax, highlighting her enduring concern for our fragile condition, society, and environment. In her apocalyptic vision, she fully embraces the inevitable idea of the end, while searching for new alterations and possibilities that may give us the hope and tools to survive.
Anna Hulačová (born 1984, Sušice, ČSSR) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, the Studio of Intermedia Work II under Jiří Příhoda. She is an extraordinary sculptor, whose work revives traditional crafts, translating the inspiration found in ancient mythologies, eastern cultures as well as in Czech folk traditions, and original Christian symbolism into the language of contemporary art. Her primarily figurative works embody an idiosyncratic aesthetic merging ancient idols, Gothic woodcarving, and surface minimalism of graphic design and photography. Hulačová has exhibited her work at many institutions, including most recently at Frieze Cork Street in London, Galeria Arsenał in Białystok, Brno House of Arts, Art Encounters Biennial 2021 in Timisoara, MO.CO. Montpellier, Centre Pompidou in Paris, Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, Liberec Regional Gallery, East Slovakian Regional Gallery in Košice, 2019 Aichi Triennial in Japan, Casino Luxembourg, Baltic Triennial 13, Prague City Gallery, Prague National Gallery, and Gdansk City Gallery. She currently lives and works in Klučov, Czech Republic. The installation Edible, Beautiful, Untamed will also be exhibited as part of the Art Basel Parcours program in Basel from June 13-19, 2022.