Jiri David: Rust (Paintings 2006)
AP Pleskot Gallery, Prague, 15.12.2006 – 25.2.2007
published in Flash Art International
Jiri David (1956) is certainly one of the few members of the “older” generation of Czech artists who continue to reflect and influence the contemporary art scene in Prague. His latest exhibition project on view at the AP architectural studio’s gallery space and entitled Rez is based on his David’s work over the past year. The show comprises complex installation that includs paintings and space “paintings-objects,” photographs, and interventions into the exhibition space using an unintrusive duck tape. The entire installation exudes an atmosphere of intimacy underlined by minimal use of color. By placing a cross making “a point of departure” for the show, the installation also counts on individual dialogue of the visitor with the ambivalent structure created by the artists, a structure typical of a mixture of artistic, personal and social references. David used the duck tape to create an inconspicuous vertical stripe on the central pillar marking the level of his own height and thus defining the personal gauge of things manifested in his reception and transformation of a sign system he works with. In addition to paintings typical of their post-conceptual “subjectivity” (A Totally Stupid Chair, Transfer, A Hammer) or of a certain type of structured “expressiveness” (Dusk, A Black Butterfly, Haemorrage) the exhibition is dominated by paintings-objects (Something Inbetween, Chaise, Father, Mom). David uses industrial made, stretched and primed canvases, some of which even remain wrapped in plastic. The canvases are hanged in couples opposite or above one another, they are connected with carved letters or used as “plinths” placed vertically against the wall playing at canvas as a representative symbol of an intermedially perceived artist’s space of expression. Small photographs, almost hidden within the show, further develop David’s “shifted vision” marking the exhibition’s atmosphere and its title. The artist wishes to suggest his intention to perceive the material world in its “pure” state as opposed to its phenomenological understading and appropriating it – just like it sometimes happens shortly after waking up.
The character of the entire installations and its parts refers to avantgarde expressions in art of both the first and second halves of the 20th century. However, Jiri David inverses the classic modernist approach, in which the artist’s personal experience becomes a means for expressing universal message. Instead, David uses conventional signs of the avantgarde tradition such as the “Beuysesque” felt, which in his work associates mother’s warmth and security in a personal context (Mom).
Despite his “post-modern” points of departure, David responds to the situation in the contemporary art scene trying to once again come to terms with the avantgarde heritage, the relationship between involvement and personal message, and the position of an artist in contemporary society. This exhibition is his latest contibution to this debate, although compared to his previous “involved” projects (such as A Simple Recording, 2005) it appears more introverted and autonomous.