Krištof Kintera’s subject, and his medium, is the stuff that connects us and powers the modern world. Desires, delusions, hopes and fears: wires, diodes, circuit boards, lamps and cables – today’s prized novelty stands in for the gods of yesterday, before they become tomorrow’s refuse. Kintera compares these contemporary networks to the structure of plant roots and their supporting colonies of mycelium: a universal system providing energy and communication.
Krištof Kintera. Postnaturalia, 2016–17. Mixed media. Installation view, The End of Fun!, Ikon, Birmingham, 2020. Photo: Martin Kennedy.
Currently installed in Kintera’s survey exhibition at Ikon, Birmingham, the great sprawling cityscape of electronic debris Postnaturalia (2016-17) suggests a near future in which discarded circuitry evolves into a life of its own. The sculpture assumes a hybrid vegetable-technological form, with brain-like resin casts of cauliflower heads cresting monstrous futuristic wire stems. The work is installed beside a recreation of the artist’s studio, suggesting a constant process of transformation and creation: art-making and exhibition-making as practices that are not excluded from Kintera’s critical vision of overproduction and consumption.
Krištof Kintera. Drawings, 2007–20 (detail). Mixed media, lights. Installation view, The End of Fun!, Ikon, Birmingham, 2020. Photo: Martin Kennedy.
As per the title The End of Fun!, while Kintera’s work may not carry an explicitly environmental message, it is riven with angst. The chapel-like upper gallery is hung with rapidly produced paintings and collages – referred to by the artist as “drawings”’ – many of which express the artist’s raw fears and passions, whether personal, political or environmental.
Krištof Kintera. Nervous Trees, 2013–17. Fibreglass, globes, electronics. Installation view, The End of Fun!, Ikon, Birmingham, 2020. Photo: Martin Kennedy.
Kinetic works such as the jittery Nervous Trees (2013-17) and the talking crow I see I see I see (2009) reimagine the gallery as a mythic space, the stuff of European fairytales in which plants can move and animals talk. As with the best fables, humour and charm conceal a dark undertone.
Krištof Kintera. I se I see I see, 2009. Mixed media, mechanical and acoustical object. Installation view, The End of Fun!, Ikon, Birmingham, 2020. Photo: Martin Kennedy.
Born in Prague in 1973, Kintera studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, and the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. He has had recent solo exhibitions at the Tinguely Museum, Basel; Kunsthal Rotterdam, and the Maramotti Collection, Reggio Emilia, and was featured in the 2019 Quebec City Biennale.
Krištof Kintera: The End Of Fun!
17 September – 22 November 2020
Interview by HETTIE JUDAH
Filmed and edited by MARTIN KENNEDY
Meryl McMaster – interview: ‘I explore complex questions around one’s sense of self and belonging to two heritages’
McMaster, who often transforms herself into hybrid animal-human creatures for her photographs, discusses her show, As Immense as the Sky, at the Ikon Gallery, and how her mixed European and Plains Cree ancestry feeds into her work
Hew Locke – interview: ‘A lot of my work has to do with the burden of history and … how history affects us today’
Hew Locke discusses monarchy, nationhood, bigotry, boats, Brexit and the seductive silliness of TV’s historical dramas, before the opening of his show at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
Langlands & Bell: ‘We like to be catapulted into the unknown; we like a challenge’
For a new show at Birmingham’s Ikon gallery, they have turned their shared gaze on to the giants of the technological age – among them Google, Amazon, Alibaba and Facebook - and the structures they have created as their new headquarters.
Edmund Clark: ‘The intervention, the control, the censorship is part of what I do’
Edmund Clark discusses his recent residency at the UK’s only wholly therapeutic prison, HMP Grendon; his time spent on Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan; and how intervention and censorship have become a part of his work