Adela Matasova (Czech Republic)

Within the last decade, Adela Matasova traveled to United States several times. It was during her repeated visits that she became captivated by the majestic presence of the Western landscape. She joined the ranks of artists as diverse as 19th-century Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902), Georgia 0'Keeffe (1887–1986) and more recently those associated with Land Art, primarily Michael Heitzer and Walter de Maria. Vast open spaces, unusual geological formations and sparse human presence fascinated her. Western landscape is not hospitable and its atmosphere is opposed to the over-cultivated air of the artists of Central European domicile. Part of the fascination thus stems from an almost aggressive quality, which Matasova began to document in a series of photographs. Soon, however, she started her interventions into the recorded locale and this radically changed the formal and conceptual qualities of her work. No longer a document of existing situation, the images are pointing to imaginary future as well as to Matasova's earlier work.

In 1993, the artist created series of large concrete elements set at the seashore of Crete. Highly polished steel plates that reflected the ever-changing atmospheric qualities of the region and the landscape itself adorned these static monuments. There was a feeling of an industrial origin of these objects as their shapes suggested enormous air ducts that could connect us with the earth's very core.

The manipulated photographs of the Western landscape that Matasova presents in this exhibition are partial recordings of actual segments of this region's topography. Nevertheless, they are Fictitious Landscapes, as the artist calls them, and result from skillful use of a computer manipulation of the negative and of large-scale printing, again enabled by computer technology. In some views, new shapes are introduced into the existing scenery. These seem to integrate as if they had always been a part of this extraterrestrial environment. In others, the landscape is kept intact and only intervention is an application of mirror-like rectangles on the high points of the earths formations. The seamless quality of the previously existing features and the elements added by the artist is startling. These large panoramas are at once inviting and forbidding, they seem utilitarian and entirely fantastic at once. We might assume the presence of the oversized solar energy collectors but immediately doubt the appropriateness of such an idea. Matasova's photographs suggest both the previous environmental exploitation of the area, but also the possibility of the recovery enabled by the deeper sensitivity toward our environment and its rules.

The interest in the complexity of the invisible rules of our universe is informing the other group of works Matasova is exhibiting. The title of the series could be loosely translated as Hidden Appearances. The works are essentially large wall-hang assemblages, with kinetic elements. The advantages of computer technology are again fully explored. Here, behind the tightly stretched canvases, there are either small spheres or open circles whose movement is carefully programmed. There is also a complex illumination that brings yet another dimension into the work. The computer technology is used to its full advantage. The artist's interest to penetrate the mysteries of the molecular structures around us is clearly implied. Matasova is trying to lessen the opacity of the universe and her keen interest in understanding of the certain processes in the realm of physics is reflected in many of her recent pieces. She is responding to the present scientific discoveries and, in a singular way, aids in making them part of our collective knowledge.

Charlotta Kotikova
New York City, September 2001