Zbyněk Janáček - Gates of mind 19/2 - 23/4 2017

19. 02.2017 to 23. 04.2017

Exhibition dates: 19/2 – 23/4 2017

exhibition space: Přesahy grafiky

exhibition space : Richard Drury


Zbyněk Janáček’s visual language has its roots in the revolutionary quest of 20th-century art to link the human mind more directly with the fundamental structures creating the world we see and imagine. This search soon found its most radical expression in geometric abstraction, aimed at revealing not only the fabric of order and space, but the complex dynamism of their interrelationships. Going beyond the traditionally assumed need for a narrative or illustrative description of reality, artists gave concrete form to the otherwise hidden principles of equilibrium, movement and transformation underlying outward appearances and actions. This opened a path to artistic formulations transcending specific historical or social issues rooted in the approaches of representative depiction. The desired consequence of this was a natural unity between individuality and universality.

Zbyněk Janáček follows on from the diversified development of abstract geometric trends of the past century, using their points of departure above all in his own exploration of the ‘eternal tension’ between static pictorial form and the kinetic energy it evokes in the perception of the viewer. Janáček’s compositions tell of an intense ‘graphic sensibility’ orchestrating a subtle interplay between planes and configurations. Poised between poetry and reason, precision and play, his artistic predisposition found its truest means of expression in the printmaking technique of screen print, also called serigraphy or silkscreen. It is a stencil technique that was not primarily artistic in origin, but one whose characteristic capacity for sharp outline and rich colour found popularity with many artists during the 1960s, especially among members of the Pop art movement. In the Czech context it was Eduard Ovčáček, a printmaker from the city of Ostrava and a colleague of Janáček’s at Ostrava University’s Faculty of Art, who systematically promoted this technique on the domestic art scene.

In Zbyněk Janáček’s work, the screen print gradually freed itself from the classical format of the framed picture, acquiring monumental proportions thanks to which the dynamic area of the image spans the viewer’s entire field of vision, drawing them into an all-encompassing ‘environment’ charged with both optical and psychological sensations. Janáček’s explorations into the correlation of form and space subsequently led to him partially abandon the illusive plane of the stable two-dimensional work and, instead, incorporate it as free-standing or hanging object in the space, light and perspective of the reality around them. Even the wall-hung composition ‘steps out’ into surrounding space through individual segments becoming detached from it; the result is a more complex reflection on the surprising modularity of fixed order and, universally, on the symbolic mutuality of ‘presence’ and ‘absence’. Another important element in Janáček’s deliberately staged dialogue between two levels of perception is his use of mirrored areas, whose uneven surface not only opens up imaginary space ‘somewhere beyond’ but also deforms the perfect lines and curves of the mirrored picture or object. With this he indirectly suggests to us that, in the universe, not even time is an inflexible constant…With Janáček, the development of the screenprint’s expressive potential into the third dimension was accompanied by an interest in the similarly augmenting capabilities of new media. He now uses digital printing, an increasingly flawless technology enabling a flexible complexity of colour and compositional variations, and UV printing which ensures very fine detail and the ability to print on untraditional materials.  

In the light of the approaches described above, Zbyněk Janáček’s graphic art expression can ultimately be seen as a tribute to the capacity of the human mind to plastically comprehend visible phenomena and create a similarly plastic image of them at a mental level. This seemingly ordinary ability represents, on the contrary, one of the miracles of art and life.    


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