Néphéli Barbas and Martin Herold's exhibition at the Galerie svatého Havla, Mladá Boleslav in Czech Republic.

Sympathy For a Spider / Bug In a Timeline
Artists: Néphéli Barbas, Martin Herold
Curator & Text author: Martin Herold
July 10 - 23, 2021
Galerie svatého Havla, Mladá Boleslav


Néphéli Barbas relates to the theme of public space in various ways. Her delicate drawings depict darkened corners of public spaces, subway entrances and churches. The artist adjusts the works on paper in specially designed frames that respond to the given motif in shape and tonality of colour. For the exhibition in Galerie svatého Havla, she also created special metal objects - frames whose curves are based on Baroque morphology.

Her inspiration from architecture and applied art is also evident in her sculptural works and objects. She pays attention to elements that are usually almost invisible to us as we move through the city: facade ceramic tiles or decorative security grilles, and noticing the small details of the process of change and the passage of time-cracks, tags or old chewing gums.

In the current exhibition, she presents a response to the nameless historical tombstones in Havel Park. She has created a series of works in them using different materials and techniques. Self-made tiles, zoomorphic ceramic decorations, decorative volutes made of bent metal, neon in the form of a jellyfish, plexiglass with fictional characters, a kind of indecipherable language. Barbas gives tombstones with a lost history a new imaginative identity. Organically and in layers, as is often the case on the facades of the houses behind which we suspect their current and former inhabitants.

Martin Herold's work unfolds in closed pictorial cycles of diverse themes. The paintings with motifs of windows and entrances mostly showed transparency, and at the same time physical impenetrability: with bars in the windows and with closed doors. A series inspired by the exploration of Mars, in turn, thematized inaccessibility and the idea of a distant and unvisited landscape.

In recent years, Herold's paintings have found an equal partner in the environments in which they are presented: an alien-looking cabin in the middle of a city park, historical spaces with vaults and pillars, the hall of an abandoned functionalist building.

In the current exhibition Herold works with the metaphor of looking back in time. In the historical environment of St. Havel's Church he placed paintings with the motif of the building of James Webb's space telescope. The telescope will become a more powerful successor to the Hubble Telescope at the end of this year. Once activated, the device will become a machine for images from the universe's distant past, dating back to after the Big Bang. Herold applies the motif of looking backwards, which revives the long-ago, by juxtaposing images of the telescope's instruments with Renaissance tombstones. The image of the construction of the test version of the telescope, bearing two of the final 18 mirrors in gilded beryllium, is set in the darkened roof of the church, a setting above an imaginary celestial vault.
The cycle is complemented by an image of a Romanesque sacred sculpture with the motif of an angel recording good deeds: in this look back in time, the historical comes alive and disrupts traditional understandings of the linearity of time and art historical development.

Photo: Anna Pleslová