Vojtěch Kovářík - Works from Recent Years
In connection with the latest GASK curators’ project, Printmaking Crossovers presents a new exhibition entitled Works from Recent Years by Vojtěch Kovářík, another important and high-profile figure in the contemporary Czech graphic art scene. Born in 1976 in nearby Kolín, he creates large-scale prints and has presented his work at numerous exhibitions. Kovářík has also received a number of awards, including the 2008 Vladimír Boudník Prize. He has also been recognised several times in the main category of the Print of the Year competition.
The autumn of 2014 sees Kovářík at the height of his creative power, with a clearly defined artistic standpoint and an unmistakable style. Since his student days at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Brno University of Technology, he has been developing this style into a distinctive, visually unsettling position. Admirably, Kovářík does not conform to the pressure of an era characterised by rapid development and an emphasis on quick-fix solutions. Instead, he sets his own pace, working freely and independently. In limited series he tests out new techniques, mostly over a long-term period, and elaborates his ideas thoroughly. Even his content does not echo current hot topics, unlike socially engaged art. Rather, Kovářík focuses on simple, modest and enduring subjects. In his prints, the artist reflects the daily and immediate reality that surrounds him or attracts his interest. Such a reality also leads to intentional searches and recording.
With regard to methodology, Kovářik bases his work on the traditions of linocut technique and hand-printed work. He connects and pushes them forward thanks to a sophisticated experimental approach with use of printing technology for transmitting an analogue recording. Most of all, Kovářik is interested in the transformation of three-dimensional space into a two-dimensional level together with the effect of light, with the inclusion of a deliberate printer’s error. His own photographs provide the images for the printing blocks he cuts. The objects of his interest, which are photographed or in some cases computer-processed, include agricultural and industrial landscapes of the Polabí area, glimpses into the interiors of abandoned warehouses, garages and religious buildings, together with still lifes featuring skulls. These images are broken into visual pieces of autotypical points, and the etchings created by hand, using this technique, are often over-sized or distorted in other ways, with screens. Kovářík then transfers the etchings on to paper, and the resulting prints, whether black-and-white or colour, elicit surprises among viewers in terms of emotions and experiences.
The depicted reality – seen as if from a sheltered position through the screen of a mosquito net or net curtains – is noticeably disturbing. Kovářík forces us to constantly reassess and evaluate the perspective of how we view things, and to sharpen blurred reality and re-evaluate our perceptual experience. In a similar vein, in the choice of his most recent large format linocuts, Works from Recent Years, he presents groups that relativise firmly established visual stereotypes, which open up new levels and gateways to space.
Veronika Marešová, curator