Jan Hísek was making a name for himself as an independent graphic designer while still studying at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague (VŠUP). An unusual combination of a fertile imagination and a sense for realistic details was already in evidence in this work. The predominant technique was mezzotint, which is suitable for detailed work and whose main advantage is that it allows for roll printing. A technique based on a dot grid offers the possibility of modelling volume through the smooth scaling of hues of the colour selected.
The resulting image has a blurred effect, something that suits Hísek’s symbolic way of thinking and creating. The main inspirations behind his work are symbolism, mysticism, spiritualism and surrealism. He is a great admirer of William Blake, Odilon Redon and Jan Zrzavý, and took many ideas from Hieronymus Bosch and Leonardo da Vinci. His favourite painters include Jindřich Štyrský and Toyen. However, the influence of his father, Květoslav Hísek, a science illustrator should also not be overlooked. His father’s photographically precise and realistic drawing represents the antithesis of the fantasy element in the work of the son, while probably being the source of the latter’s typically detailed style.
The ability to combine opposing elements is one of the basic features of Hísek’s style. For instance, in his graphic work he is able to express large biblical themes using a small format. He was involved in graphic design mainly from 1986 to 1998, when he created hundreds of graphic plates. This period culminated with a cycle of mezzotints – illustrations of the Book of Revelation, in which he used a small surface to create a vision with powerful spiritual overtones. Illustration is an important part of the artist’s oeuvre. He applied his skills to magical and poetical literary texts by G. Meyrink, Tolkien, G. de Nerval, A. de Saint-Exupéry, T. Mann, V. Nezval and V. Fischerová among others. His illustrations are freely based on their subject matter, to which he responds intuitively. They have a poetic, delicate, almost ethereal character and exist as artworks in their own right. At the same time Hísek has created drawings, which can be divided into two basic types: realistic, linked with recognisable reality and content, and fantastic, more abstract in character in which unconscious mechanisms are used.
Since 1998 Hísek has focused on painting, which has become central to his creative endeavours. There are many links with his drawings. The first paintings were like paintbrush drawings on canvas and the style is similar. However, the paintings reveal a complete freedom of the imagination. He paints mostly at night, a sphere of peace, calm and concentration, and allows himself space for the application of intuition and freely developed ideas. The compositions do not arise violently but are the result of a long, focused creative process. A typical feature of these pictures are layered spiral formations that expand gradually from a central point and remind one of an unfurling flower, a rose, a star, or evoke a sense of depth, the universe and the infinite. Larger fragments of a picture arise from a multitude of small details, from which a sizable composition is created similar to a fantastic mosaic containing a hidden magic. These works reflect the state of the artist’s thinking, the existential feelings evoked in him by crucial events and powerful experiences. It is as though he visualises his personal mystical experience in paintings and drawings.
The work of Jan Hísek is subjectove, subtle and timeless. It develops outside contemporary trends in fine art. The artist occupies an unobtrusive place on the contemporary art scene and attracts all the more attention for that very fact.
Bibliophile - illustrations:
Thomas Mann: Smrt v Benátkách, Aulos, Praha
Zjevení Janovo, Aulos, Praha
Gérald de Nerval: Příběh o Královně jitra a Sulajmánovi, knížeti duchů, Trigon, Praha
John Ronald Reul Tolkien: Kovář z Velké Lesné, Aulos, Praha
Gustav Meyrink: Mistr Leonhard, Trigon, Praha
Jan Opolský: Hadí král, VŠUP, Praha
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Tanečnice Manon a jiné texty (4 svazky), Vyšehrad, Praha
Mrtvému nože netřeba – islandské pověsti podle Jóna Árnasona, Argo, Praha
Viola Fischerová: Co vyprávěla Dlouhá chvíle, Meander, Praha
Karel Toman: Tulák, Odeon, Praha
Chalíl Džibrán: Prorok, Academia, Praha
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Letec a živly, Vyšehrad, Praha
Jan Hísek (grafika, kresby, obrazy) V zakletí čar, GVU v Chebu (text Radek Wohlmuth)
Jan Hísek – Měsíc, Potok, Rybník a Květ, Galerie České pojišťovny, Praha (text Jiří Zemánek)
Jan Hísek, Divus, Praha (texty Charlotta Kotíková, Otto M. Urban, Tomáš Pospiszyl)
Jan Hísek – Grafika, Galerie Pecka, Praha (texty Petr Nedoma, Jan Rous)
Jan Hísek – Grafika, Výstavní síň Emila Filly, Ústí nad Labem (text Michal Koleček)
Jan Hísek – Grafika, obrazy, kresby, Fronta, Praha (text Jan Rous)