Jakub Janovský is among those members of the young generation of artists who are doing exciting work in the medium of drawing. Drawing serves Janovský as a universal medium that he can work liberally with, taking it in various unexpected and surprising directions, using not just the standard formats of paper and canvas (hanging drawings, intervention drawings, situation drawings, video, video recordings, installations, tattoos, etc.). The choice of medium is no accident and has to do with a way of thinking and reflecting. A tendency towards a ‘free’ and in places even anarchistic treatment of media corresponds to the ‘autonomy’ of the views that Janovský declares through his work. His creations frequently seem like sarcastic provocations, aggressive assaults, or are cruelly ironic. They delve into unpleasant topics like human mortality, pride, narcissism, egotism, naïvité, thoughtlessness and cruelty. In weakness and vulnerability humans are in various forms and representations presented as the embodiment of a quirk of fate, of the fate they are hauled through or variously dodge, often to the detriment of everything else around them (Alle gegen Alle, 2011).
Janovský also touches on the dark rituals that run through human society, across cultures and across the ages (Sabatum I, 2008; Reminiscence of Morima / Reminiscence na Morimuru, 2014; Devil / Čert, 2012). His explorations are outside time, often in signs, and function as generalised typological situations. This is matched by their intensive usually black-and-white or deliriously colourful form, often not too unlike some kind of campaign poster (Victory / Vítězství, 2012), heretic proposition (Icon / Ikona, 2012) or perverted avant-garde manifesto (Star / Hvězda, 2013; Olga, 2012; Comrades / Soudruzi, 2012). The artist takes his aim against dogmatism as such, whether linked to a specific ideology (fascism, Nazism, communism, Stalinism) or to a specific violent force (racism, xenophobia). The repolarising of good and evil and ethical frames – paradise and hell – is an important motif (Tahiti, 2013). He paraphrases to interpret earlier motifs from painting and photography (Napoleon, 2011; Woman-Breast – A Tribute to Drtikol / Žena-prso – Pocta Drtikolovi, 2014). He mixes various artistic methods and visual principles (he has done striking work with contour drawing and unorthodoxly combines techniques that bring to a head the ‘artificiality’ and ‘synthetic nature’ of a scene) in order to maximise expression and concentrate it in found reduced forms. A parallel outcome is a genre mix that oscillates between morality and morality tales. The image as an exclamation mark. Morality, by negating itself, dismantles, erases, and destroys itself.
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