Date: 06.01.2012 — 31.01.2012
“Together we will love the world and peace and we will work for it. If everyone gives everyone else everything, we will all share everything.” INCLUDEPICTURE “https://mail.google.com/mail/images/cleardot.gif” \d
– Jan Werich
Jan Brož and Vít Svoboda are two young artists who express themselves through the medium of drawing. Jan Werich was a Czech theater and cinema actor generally known for his roles of conscious and wise kings. Werich is a cult figure that stands for a world view in which the king always becomes wiser, we all make progress, the spirit of the times manages all, and while people make mistakes, they always learn their lesson so that everything ends well. Werich was an optimist, we could perhaps call him a modernist, or even a representative of modern times. However, what has Werich got to do with contemporary art? The regular audience of Christmas TV specials would reply that he was an immortal and true actor. What does Jan Brož and Vít Svoboda have to say?
Vít Svoboda: “Werich is Svěrák’s embryo.”
Jan Brož: “He is a constant source of optimism, a popular slogan from film archives.”
Jan Brož focuses on the reevaluation of modern paradigms. He is fascinated by modernism and its ethos. After a short conversation with him, one gets the impression that, in a way, he would like to return it to life. In our contemporary postmodern and fragmentary world with no total vision, this desire is understandable, yet impossible. Jan is aware of this fact and that is why in his drawings he deals with burning social-political and genuinely ethical problems. His neo-modernist form criticizes contemporaneity, which itself is shaped, to a great extent, by the avant-garde perspective on various disciplines.
Vít Svoboda is an architect. However, he also devotes his time to drawing and graffiti. His drawings are influenced by many things but the most important influence is the early-style graffiti from 1970s and 1980s. Vít sees a sheet of paper as a field of infinite possibilities where individual symbols, motives, gestures, and fragments intertwine in seemingly accidental clusters to create a new meaning. His art practice is intuitive, we could compare it to Brownian motion in physics or the phenomenon of random walk in mathematics. Svoboda formalizes his intuitive thoughts through randomly chosen strategies. In the end, graffiti finds its new form in the so-called “Character”. It is a figure that should have a name but, instead, it is left to itself. Characters have freed themselves from their names and create their own stories.
Vít’s drawings comment on graffiti itself, a movement that emptied itself shortly after its birth. Graffiti became a formalistic exercise. As I see it, this process definitely confirmed the end of modernism. Graffiti covered urban networks and it fed on the quasi-perfect system of progress, the subject matter of modernism itself. People who were marginalized by this system decided to disrupt it from within by means of the system’s own inventions and instruments.
Jan’s drawings, in contrast to Vít’s images, are far from intuitive. They are conceptual works which include easily recognizable elements. In Vít’s art we can find traces of punk-guerrilla critique, which is easy and quick. Jan criticizes and questions the idea of progress and the contemporary world through the advanced imagery of the avant-garde mixed with the visual archive of the digital age. A dialogue between two artists occurs, authors who are trying to find their own position in relation to the problems of today’s world. These problems are reflected through two strategies that exceed the boundaries of the art world. The punk anti-establishment radicalism, which can be often silly, encounters a down-to-earth intellectual revision. Using similar symbols, both authors speak about the ephemeral nature of icons, the decline of values, and the emergence of short-term visions. They are anxious about the unstable meaning of all claims, logos, and symbols. Neither has the ambition to preach to the audience or offer a solution. Both are fully aware of the fall and failure of visual languages, by which they are, however, both inspired. Both know that it is impossible to love the world. As Slavoj Žižek says, we can either hate it or remain indifferent.
In sharp contrast, the name Werich stands for an optimistic and cheerful perspective where people help each other and everyone is who they really are not who they are not.
Zdeněk Svěrák is a famous Czech actor and his son Jan Svěrák is a director of popular movies.