The End of Fun!- Kristoff Kintera (Ikon Gallery Exhibition)
Updated: Feb 1
The new exhibition at the IKON gallery; 'The End of Fun' is quite the opposite, its a hell of a lot of fun. I visited the exhibition a few weeks ago and it was the most fun I've had at an exhibition in a while. The artwork by Czech Artist Kristoff Kintera offers insight to the World around us by using recycled materials in order to create a new vision of the World we live in. The touch of life and surrealism he uses within some of his work made this exhibition an adventure to explore, and I found myself wanting even more when I sadly reached the end. I went into this exhibition expecting to not really like the pieces and get annoyed (I like my traditional paintings more than contemporary art), but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I could enjoy the work and discuss it with my partner. It was incredibly immersive and intriguing, a lot of the artwork being interactive and set off by motion sensors allows the viewer to take their time exploring each piece trying to figure it out, you end up playing with Kintera's creations. There is a lot to discover throughout the exhibition and going into it blind was the perfect way to experience it. If you haven't been yet I highly recommend you go. I'm going to review the exhibition, so if you'd prefer to go into it blind and not have 'spoilers' go check it out and come back after. But without further ado, let's look at 'The End of Fun'.
A new perspective of Landscapes
One thing that really stood out to me from this exhibition was Kintera's unique approach to landscapes. There is an environmental message lingering and watching over you as you observe each piece, however, Kintera finds the perfect balance of letting you know what the artwork is about but doesn't force feed you too much, which allows you to think and interpret the pieces for yourself. I have just finished my landscape module with my Art degree so I paid extra attention when looking at these pieces and how they relate to your typical landscape artwork.
Drawings- 2007-10 Framed 'Drawings' using recycled pens, wires, metal/electronics and expanding foam.
These pieces are from the first room we entered, which displayed a lot of fun drawings, created from recycled materials. There is so much to look at and with each inspection you find something new. These particular drawing I picked out depict a city scene and although they are created with harsh, discarded materials, Kintera recycles them and gives them a beautiful new meaning within the work, to be admired. His approach to landscapes is unique, not only because of his choice of materials, but also due to his attention and focus on the idea of the landscape as a whole. We always focus and pay attention to the architecture of a cityscape, but never really consider what makes up these vast scenes. Kintera makes us think about this by depicting the underground, the electrical wires and water pipes that help a city to function that often goes ignored. A city isn't just what we see, it's also the invisible parts that we aren't always aware of; waterlines, sewage pipes and electrical wires which all reach us and connect us.
When placed with these two drawings depicting plant life, we can see the roots of wires branching out connecting them to the earth and plant life surrounding the plants. Our structures mirror nature. And it's amazing how much we rely on nature, not just for our survival but for our ideas and development. The materials are incredibly effective at creating an intriguing piece of art, but also at highlighting our waste and the obvious damage it does to the environment.
Neuropolis- 2020 Wall sculpture made from recycled materials
These exciting, dissected landscapes advance to something much more vast and creative in the next room. You can see the progress and development of ideas as you travel through the exhibition which I really love. It's almost like walking through a sketchbook of his artistic journey. He's moved on from looking at singular buildings to a whole cityscape, a slice of a bigger scene. This piece, again, informs the viewer that we are all connected by these wires and pipelines architecturally, but also by the technology we use. The more you look the more recycled technology throwback pieces you discover. We are all connected by technology and also by the secret design of our cities and towns. Kintera uses wires and 3D objects to add layers of texture and perspective to his work, which create amazing results. I love how the textures of different materials, like indents and parts of a motherboard act as windows and building textures. There is a lot of detail to unpack, you end up close and personal with all of his pieces. It's extremely difficult to not end up invested with his work.
Tower of unsustainable development- 2020 Sculpture made from recycled materials
As I moved on I could see the advancement of this 3D Drawing moving into the realms of a 360° sculpture. I was fascinated by how much detail and recognisable materials to take in, but also by this progression of his ideas. It adds so much interest to see a view we recognise made from old technology we recognise. It really highlights the fast rate we are advancing with technology and our neglect to repurpose old parts which we could easily do. Kintera highlights with his work that just because we have discarded something to replace it with something new, doesn't mean that piece of technology is now useless. He gives new purpose and meaning to these pieces with his art and makes you really think about how you should recycle and reuse old materials. His work comments on how we should really think before sending something to landfill site. Can it be recycled? Can I find a new use for it? Can I use some of its parts to make something new? All of these cities are made from discarded technology that helped us develop our current cities, so is this technology we now deem useless really that useless if it has gotten us to where we are now?
Postnaturalia- 2016-17 Large model of a city made from recycled materials
Finally, we finish off this segment with Postnaturalia, a sculpture of a city that was quite vast, and took up a lot of space. There is so much to unpack visually with this piece, so many pieces of recycled technology and wires to identify as well as the bigger picture all of these tiny segments and pieces form. We stayed here looking at this piece for quite a while just exploring it like a familiar yet new, foreign country. It was interesting to see how Kintera explored different types of landscapes, such as using flat, empty motherboards to act as fields separating the two areas of the city. There were also isolated sculptures that resembled little islands littered around the outskirts of the bigger piece but still remained connected through wires. The theme of nature stands strong in this piece as large wire trees tower over many different areas of the cityscape. Trees are actually connected to each other through a network created by their roots, and this particular sculpture really resembles that from my point of view. We are connected to one another from our pipes and wires but also through technology. Furthermore, the wire trees represent nature and our need for it, but also show the absence of it in modern settings. We take from nature but don't give back, we destroy it for our own benefit. Even the name 'Postnaturalia' shows how we have advanced past the need for nature. It again mirrors how plants and nature function, how they connect and support each other. Nature does not need us but we need it. I loved looking at these themes of nature and technology in a city and societal setting. The work effectively creates discussion and really makes you think about what the Artist is trying to say. While these pieces were incredibly stimulating to ponder on, I found the interactive pieces to really be the highlight of the visit.
There was something quite sci-fi about this exhibition experience, with a focus on technology, but this loose connection to sci-fi really hits hard with the surrealistic creatures he creates, adding life to this already immersive experience. It adds to this feeling of being on a strange planet.
I see, I see, I see- 2009 Mixed media, mechanical and acoustical object
As we started from the top floor this was the first piece we saw and it greeted us with surprise. The Raven squawked corporate slogans at us while we fell in love with its charm. The intent was to be creepy and unsettling but I was immediately taken by how cool and cute he was. Reading through the Exhibition Guide reveals that Kintera loves the mythology of the Raven as it is often linked to contradiction. This fits with Company slogans being shouted at us by the bird as these slogans never are genuine. It fits into this consumerist theme of society being consumers and buying what we're told to, whether we're buying too much or replacing what we have with a newer model. There is a deep message behind his adorable posture (he is exceptionally cute when he kicks his little legs) and if you see the exhibition you should definitely pay him a visit, you won't regret it!
Nervous Trees- 2013-17 Made from fibreglass, globes and electronics.
One of the other creatures Jacob and I had the pleasure of meeting was the nervous trees. We entered the room to find silence and a lot of upside down trees, as we began moving we found another piece of work, triggered by hidden sensors. As we moved the trees did too, shaking and making noise as they did. I have never thought of a tree as cute, but these ones persuaded me. Kintera creates a juxtaposition from how you would typically view a tree as strong and powerful with how they tower over you, but then gives them this human trait of nervousness. It humanises something we wouldn't normally apply human traits to. They become more human with how they are presented upside down, the branches becoming limbs and the globe suggesting a head. This could link to how trees communicate with one another through their connections and roots in the Earth. So the Earth being the head makes sense, as their 'brain' is rooted deep in the Earths soil. This piece brought out our inner child as we roamed the room trying to find the sensors to trigger movement, we found ourselves playing with the Trees which really immersed us into the artwork and world Kintera created.
My light is your life-Shiva Samurai II- 2009 Made from old lamps and extension leads
This piece was simply stunning and I found myself transfixed, watching the different lights turn on and off. We waited to watch how the halo and different 'swords' would turn on and how they would illuminate the room. The halo makes the mysterious being seem like a protector but this is juxtaposed by how intimidating he feels as you stand before him in person. The piece looks dangerous with all of these old and possibly faulty lamps excessively plugged in to all of these different extension leads, with wires draping from him. The piece is clearly commenting on our excessive use of electricity and how damaging it is for the environment, and I find it interesting how he chose to show this with light, something that is typically seen as symbolic of good. Despite how intimidating he is with how he towers over you, this piece is majestic and magnificent, it really brings out your inner moth.
There is so much more I could delve into about this exhibition, but I'm going to leave the rest for you to experience yourself if you choose to visit. I can genuinely say this is one of my favourite exhibitions I have had the pleasure of visiting and it is not something I will be forgetting about any time soon. It is also the perfect space for a date as well as discussing some amazing art and themes. In fact the themes Kintera explores couldn't be more relevant in the current climate of environmental issues. I urge you to visit if you are capable, you can book time slots online with the Ikon website and entry is free. Thanks for listening to me ramble and I hope you can have as much fun with the experience as we did!
Book tickets HERE!