• Everything we see could also be otherwise (My sweet little lamb)
    20 September – 11 November 2017

    The Showroom (63 Penfold St, Marylebone, London NW8 8PQ, UK) Curated by: What, How & for Whom/WHW, in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg, co-curated by Emily Pethick Preview: Tuesday 19 September, 6.30–8.30pm Exhibition opening hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12–6pm The Showroom presents the epilogue of a long-term project which took place over several months in Zagreb (November 2016 to May 2017), which contextualised and rethought the Kontakt Art Collection. It was curated by What, How & for Whom/WHW in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg. This final exhibition is co-curated by The Showroom Director Emily Pethick. Taking selected works from the Vienna-based Kontakt Art Collection as its point of departure, including seminal pieces by some of the most prominent artists from Central, Eastern and South-East Europe since the 1960s, the exhibition stages an interplay between these and other historical, contemporary and newly produced works that interpret and critically examine the collection. The project unfolded in six episodes in Zagreb, each iteration influencing, contradicting and reinforcing each other. It took place in a number of smaller art spaces, artists' studios, private apartments and other locations related to artistic production and the broader cultural landscape of the city. This final stage of the project at The Showroom continues to reframe and expand the context of the collection. Interlacing geographically and poetically heterogeneous artist practices, the project attempts to punctuate standardized presentations and interpretations of works that have dominated international art circuits over the last few decades, with more disorderly and experimental arrangements. The project title is taken from a work by Croatian artist Mladen Stilinović (1947–2016), to whom the project is dedicated. Stilinović's life-long anti-systemic approach, his quiet but shrewd rebellion against social conventions and the conventions of art, and an artistic practice that trenchantly and humorously engages with complex themes of ideology, work, money, pain and poverty, inspired a generation of artists worldwide. The project is a cooperation with Kontakt Art Collection and is supported by Erste Group Bank AG and ERSTE Foundation.


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Běla Kolářová

Běla Kolářová belongs to the generation which touched off an iconoclastic revolution and “rearmament“ in Czech art during the 1960s. This new wave hit the scene with a program of objective tendencies, proclaiming that art can exist as a process, concept, method, experiment and language, or as something “concrete“—such as a found and designed object. Kolářová’s training is in photography, and her role in the 1960s reversal was associated with this medium from the beginning. As with many of her contemporaries, she arrived at the conclusion that it is not possible to photograph the world, i.e. to use classic methods of representing reality. She therefore invented her own method and technology, the artificial negative. She pressed small objects into layers of parafin on small pieces of celophane, or she actually applied small fragments of natural and artificial materials. Instead of choosing the world that it is possible to photograph and represent as an exterior appearance, she chose the world that is possible to accept, to appropriate as an assemblage of material fragments, using light to transfer them into an autonomous picture on the sensitive surface of photographic paper. A different order of reality emerges in these photographs which operate somewhere between Man Ray’s photograms, Duchamp’s readymades and an “absolute“ record of light.


Born in Terezíně, Czech Republic, 1923. Died in Prague, Czech Republic, 2010.

Kolářová began taking photographs after the Second World War. In 1954 Kolářová began to develop films and to print them in a darkroom. In her photographs she reflected the life of Prague’s (Czech Republic) suburbs. Later Kolářová’s work was based on observing pieces, which she recorded on photographic paper. By the mid-sixties the artist took original photos of poets and writers, such as Samuel Beckett (1963) or Honoré de Balzac (1964), and modified them into new pictures. At the same time she started to make her first assemblages. At the beginning of the 1980s Kolářová moved to Paris (France) together with her husband Jiří Kolář. In the 1990s she lived alternately in Paris and Prague, finally moving to Prague in 1999.

Solo Exhibitions (selected):

2010  “Běla Kolářová“, Gallery of Photography Louvre, Paris, France

2009 “Běla Kolářová“, Rüdiger Schoettle Gallery, Munich, Germany

2008 “Běla Kolářová“, Museum Kampa, Prague, Czech Republic        

2007 “Běla Kolářová “, Olomouc Museum of Art, Olomouc, Czech Republic    

2006 “Běla Kolářová “, National Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic

2005 “Běla Kolářová “, Montanelli Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic

2003 “Běla Kolářová“, Amos Anderson Museum, Helsinki, Finnland

Group Exhibitions (selected):

2017 "Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction", MoMA Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA

2016 “The Promise of Total Automation”, Kunsthalle Wien Museumsquartier, Vienna, Austria

2011 “Běla Kolářová / Jiří Kolář“, Krobath Wimmer Gallery, Vienna, Austria

2009 “Gender Check – Role models in the Art of East Europe“, MUMOK Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Austria 

2008 “Cutting Realities. Gender Strategies in Art“, Austrian Cultural Forum New York, New York City, USA

2007 documenta XII, Kassel, Germany

2004 “The Sixties“, The Brno House of Arts, Brno, Czech Republic

This bibliography provides a list of books available in the
ERSTE Foundation Library

Books/Exhibition Catalogues


Kremer, Boris, ed. 2013. Běla Kolářová. London: Raven Row. [Exhib. Cat., Raven Row (Jan. 31-Apr. 07, 2013)]

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