JIRI DAVID

Lives & works in Praha (Czech Republic)
Very active in: 80s, 90s, 2000s, Current decade

Representative galleries:
Jiri Svestka

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The painter, photographer and visual artist Ji?í David (born 28 August 1956 in Rumburk, north Bohemia) is among the most prominent and most original representatives of the Czech art scene, in which he has figured for nearly thirty years now. At the same time he is one of very few who, with striking energy, transcends the local scene, thus effectively placing it in a broader international context. While in the 1980s (especially in the latter half) his artistic sensibility acutely reflected the tension of the shift from wild Neo-Expressionism towards semiotic fragmentarism, with the advent of ?social washiness? in the 1990s his work moved towards installation and photography. This expansion of means of expression didn?t take place as a result of the weakening authority of painting, nor due to some kind of fatigue of this ?slow? medium as the general state of the art industry might suggest ? the causes must be looked for at a much deeper level. Expanding into space, creating installations with a transitory span of existence, featuring objects in various combinations, industrial and biological ready-mades, paintings and photographs, or fragments of them, often accompanied by musical sound ? were all a conscious attack on the audience. It was an ambitious attempt to reach the audience with this derivation of a gesamkunstwerk of the 1990s, to reach it with a strong emotionality, conveying a message of the social nature of the post-existentialist situation. The subjective filter of David?s iconography combined fragments of scientific, social, artistic as well as media levels of reality. However the artist?s interest in them didn?t lie in the synthesising potential of encyclopaedic romanticism; instead, he was attracted by their fragmented visual quality. For Ji?í David the multilayered meaning of the components he employs is, as the law philosopher Ji?í P?ibán noted, an element in the use of an unusual language which, instead of representation, is clearly dominated by difference that brings about instability in the work?s inner structure and its message (Právo newspaper?s Salon supplement, 5.12.2002, p. 4). In short, sign and symbol function for David as the pretext for an emotionally exalted reference to the visual sources of his own imagination and their neurotically interconnected, mutually attractive or repulsive links. The legibility of sign or symbol in David?s work is, logically, always determined by its context, even when the work is, for instance, a mere sign. In his finest works, however ? especially his photographic series ? he succeeds, through the pithiness of his visual assault, in addressing the broader public as well ? a public that normally has nothing to do with the world of contemporary art. (Martin Dostál)