The main starting point of Petra Gell’s work is an exploration of possible interactions between space and surface, a reflection on the architectural condition or a sociological and philosophical reflection on the possibilities generated by architecture. With her site-specific installations bordering between graphic and object, she intervenes in an architectural space and sets its basic building blocks into new relationships.
In her intervention in Villa Tugendhat, Petra thematises the feeling that as a woman who combines raising children with a career, she has no space for herself. This follows Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, which was first published in 1929 – the same year that Grete Tugendhat approached the visionary Mies van der Rohe as the architect of her new home.
The design was co-authored by his longtime collaborator Lilly Reich. Several elements of the interior furnishings bear her signature, especially the textile elements. For example, the curtains in the main living space are designed as movable walls, which allow for the variability of its division, which is very important in the concept of this iconic space.
The rooms in the house, especially the bedrooms, have a clear gender-specific distinction in terms of colour and furnishings: a desk and blue shades for Fritz (and a work area in the main living room); a mirror with a dressing table and cherry red upholstery for Greta.
However, Greta Tugendhat, like Lily Reich, did not fulfil the ideas of her time about the typical feminine role – she was highly educated and modern, she was intensely focused on art and philosophy, and worked for the League for Human Rights. In practice, her behaviour thus transcended these gender-specific attributes.
With her project INSPIRATION 2: Graphic of the Space, Petra Gell creates fictional spaces in the form of at least small corners that do not have to be shared with anyone. This makes us think about the common architectural and urban settings or the (in)equality of opportunities and space for the genders.
The Austrian artist Petra Gell studied Painting and Graphic Art, Visual Studies and Textile Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and all these positions are reflected in her work. Her most typical style at the moment features site-specific installations at the intersection of architecture and design, responding to and playing with space.
13. 9. 2022, 6 p.m. opening
14. 9. – 30. 10. 2022 exhibition
20. 9. 2022, 6:30 p.m. artist talk – Petra Gell & Bernadette Krejs
Authors of the concept and production of exhibitions
Barbora Benčíková, Ludmila Haasová, Neli Hejkalová (Villa Tugendhat Study and Documentation Centre)
Atelier Zidlicky – Marcela Schneiberková
The project is realized with financial support of the Ministry of Culture, Czech Republic.