Profiles

Although Tomáš Knoflíček is an art historian specializing in Medieval art and teaches at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Ostrava, he is also well-known for his versatile projects dealing with contemporary art and music.
He is primarily concerned with the role of art in society, above all its communication potential in public space. As a curator he lays emphasis on specific local conditions, which is apparent mainly in his projects related to Ostrava. A good example, for instance, is the Lauby gallery which used to be a part of the Ostrava Museum and the town-hall. Iron bars, which obviously do not have any function nowadays, were used to create a space for contemporary art. Let´s also recall the exhibitions in the Dukla Gallery (since 2018), which is located in a former cinema passageway and has become a part of the urban complex called Poruba. This is where up-to-date tendencies of contemporary art meet the specific architecture of socialist realism. In 2011 he initiated the foundation of the festival Kukačka (Cuckoo), which takes place in Ostrava every year and deals with different topics. The name of the gallery refers to the nesting habit of cuckoos and similarly tries to smuggle different forms of contemporary art into a common urban space with its own everyday life.

In 2017 he curated together with his colleague Libor Novotný the festival Sculptures in Streets – Brno Art Open 2017 with an umbrella title Poetry and Truth (Dichtung und Wahrheit) referring to the relationship between poetry and science in Goethe´s philosophical work. Their aim was to review the ability of art to manipulate the concept of truth and simultaneously self-involved inconsistence, especially nowadays in connection with the growing influence of post-truth. A sensitive approach to local context was also visible in the exhibition Under the Sign of the Beam and Roses which he curated together with Libor Novotný in the Entrance Gallery in Břevnov in 2015. The project was based on the history of the Benedictine monastery and the symbolics of common and sacral objects, which were meant to show the mutual estrangement between Christian and modern art in the post-secular society.

He reflected the issue of natural processes on the background of anthropocene within the framework of the Festival m3 – Art in Space (2019) entitled Biotope. However, the problematic relationship of the pragmatic and rational approach of man to the natural environment does not take place on the background of clearly articulated ecological activism, but it aims more at reflecting the structural principles present in nature in the context of artistic approaches. A more critical voice was heard at this year´s group exhibition in the Pardubice Gallery GAMPA entitled How Much Land Does a Man Need, whose title comes from a short story by Tolstoy describing the insatiable, greedy desire of the main character to gain as much land as possible for himself. The project reflected the criticism of modernist ethos aimed at rationality, industrialization in the name of progress, which does not show anything more but a collective myth realized to the detriment of an environmental breakdown.

Besides the above-mentioned curatorial projects, Tomáš Knoflíček was active as a singer and guitar player in the alternative/indie pop group Miou Miou and later in the japanophile experimental ambiente music project Gurun Gurun. In 2021 during the spring lockdown his debut album Vaguely Delimited Targets came out, produced by the Slovak label LOM, with a variety of acoustic instruments – for example a psaltery, a string instrument popular in the Medieval times, together with different glitch or ambiente structures.

Tina Poliačková

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