David Helán’s artistic personality is distinguished primarily by his intuitive continuation of the conceptual tendencies heritage from the second half of the 20th century. Helán’s artistic outcomes, performances or projects are penetrated by his physical treatment of reality, as well as by his free manipulation of the surroundings and their discreetness. A lot of it takes place on the basis of the physical principle action and reaction, which creates a certain level of tension. If there is humour present in his work then it generally has the character of an immediate participant in the potential content of the work. Contagious laughter is not supposed to fill the role of planned entertainment but it is the part and parcel of a specific intent that the artist is captivated by and he is amused by its realization (i.e. Stomach Ultraphoniatry). Some of the performances that he initiated while he was still studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, contained the just mentioned symbols – for example “Havárie horkovodu”, “Odtažení total”, the objects of three holey chairs called “Liposuction”, or the frost drawing on the glass of a coffee table and others.
David Helán, however, uses also some more material approaches in the form of exterior landscapes – “land art” and sculpting interventions (for example Důkaz kruhem v Květné zahradě [Proof by a Circle in the Flower Garden in Kroměříž and Útěchov), or ordinary objects, texts and code words (Diplomní práce [Thesis]). The border line between a sculpting gesture and video performances is wiped out by his video recordings entitled “Fatamontage” from his stay at Cooper Union in New York in 2008-2009. Video is an instrument here used to capture certain actions and simultaneously the picture of the video is manipulated into a position of an illusion (stopping of closing doors of an elevator with his own head, “fake” swarm of insects, etc.) The sculpting character of some of Helán’s work is often comparable, with its discreet sensitivity, to the work of Jiří Kovanda. Similarities in their work can be found especially in the use of a physical personality as a material part of artistic being. The actual medium of a performance is momentary, the only proof is a photograph, which offers the reading of the image of the performance, rather than a performance as a present act. Helán counts on the presence of a photograph, therefore he does not hesitate to further manipulate its final image at some moments, like he does in some of his videos. Sensitivity – so-called “discreet tendencies” is taken rather critically and often with a healthy dose of sarcasm. The result is its “desensitization”.
David Helán openly disputes the actual artistic operation. The artistic duo David Helán - David Hřivňacký creates performances often in gallery spaces where the two artists try to demonstrate a specific situation (usually the exhibition and artefacts present at the exhibition). For example their inspection of one of the works of Jiří Kovanda (Mountain bike with its handlebars embedded in the wall of the gallery). Like during some previous performances, also in this one, the artists pose in the roles of pseudo-scientists or human creatures of the future. Using a 3D interface and coloured glasses, they achieve a virtual materialization of something once material (e.g. the previously mentioned bike of Jiří Kovanda). Dadaistic immediacy and an abstract degree of rationalism are significant for the collective work of Helán and Hřivňacký. It appears that the content of their work is the question of art itself: asking for the boundaries of artistic reality, or, on the contrary its illusion. They use quite practical, almost simplistic tools (flashlights, lighting, reflectors, tape measure, laser, etc.) to demonstratively pose these and other questions. Working in a pair is, in a sense, a certain type of a current artistic trend. However, the character of David Helán’s work does not differ much whether he works alone or with someone else – there is always a certain measure of experiment, improvisation, humour and finally a reliable result present in his work. From a certain distance, the artistic processes and stands of David Helán can be encumbered in content and, in spite of a frozen smile, serious. This artist uses the surrounding world as an open workshop where it is possible, through its transformation, to liberate from the cramp of normality or stagnation.
Performances at exhibitions:
Vysvětlování, s Davidem Hřivňackým, Galerie 207, VŠUP, Praha
Ortesa, OFF Intersection (Quadrienalle of Unqulified), s Milošem Šejnem, Galerie Trafačka Praha
Studio Camerata, s Davidem Hřivňackým, vernisáž výstavy „Sochy v zahradách, Květná zahrada Kroměříž
David Bowie 3D, s Davidem Hřivňackým, DOX, Praha
Telepaties, performance s Davidem Hřivňackým pro BTV při komentované prohlídce v Galerii Aula, Favu Brno
performance „Zateplení Global“, výstava „PHA X OVA“ Galerie Aula, Favu Brno
performativní presentace textu vernisáž výstavy „Vlhko nebo zázrak“, Galerie Půda, Jihlava
neohlášená performance „Sem se rozšoup se šerošou“, výstava Roboondra, Galerie Trafačka, Praha, 2010
Performance Malého triku a dlouhého vyprávění, s Milošem Šejnem, výstava Kantorský rodokmen, Mendelovo muzeum, Brno
performativní presetace generovaných falešných diplomek, výstava Jemný řez, Galerie Akademie výtvarných umění, Praha
klauzury intermedia-koncert skupiny Věřící
vernisáž výstavy Míši Petrů se skupinou Věřící, galerie Via Art, Praha
ČT2, Kultura.cz, „Sochy v zahradách II“
Telepaties, záznam performance pro Btv, upoutávka k výstavě PHA X OVA
ČT 2, pořad „Kultura.cz“, portrét „ Konceptuální umělec David Helán“
Časopis Ateliér 1/ 2009 , „Cargo 2008 - ve veřejném prostoru zahraničních měst“