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Artlist — Center for Contemporary Arts Prague

Ján Mančuška

First Name
Birth place
Place of work
Between 1978-2011 lived in Prague, later on also in Berlin
Lived and worked in
Praha, Berlín
↳ Find in the VVP AVU database
installation art
CSU Library
↳ Find in the catalogue

About artist

Ján Mančuška completed his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts as a painter in 1998. However, having supplied the paintings for his thesis work with Lego pieces,

it featured the final turn in his creative style. Not long after that, he produced a series of reliefs and objects entitled It Hurts Only When I'm Laughing (1999), having used mundane household objects such as ear swabs, straws, tooth picks and pins, as the expressions of the intimate nature of the fireside. Mančuška’s unique aesthetic style and the themes he continues to address through his work today were already strongly present in that series. It Hurts Only When I'm Laughing was followed by a collection of objects entitled 3+1(1999). Here, Mančuška used ordinary sewing thread tightened around nails in place of drawing. The series included objects of bigger size, such as a dining table and chairs, and a television with an arm chair created directly on the wall. Everyday objects with subtly skewed symbolic messages such as a sink with a tap made from bars of soap, or a drinking cup made of sugar cubes comprised his next series in 1999, which he called Morning (2001). The confusing visual aspects of these objects was not the only important theme in this series, however. Instead, Mančuška’s work is born from the observation of the most intimate facets of the world around him, as well as from subtle social analysis. The materials he uses are things we find in every bathroom cupboards, kitchen drawers, or in the stationary shop round the corner. These object lend his work intimacy and familiarity that are rare in art. But at the same time they are used in an exclusive fashion not because of their luxurious nature but rather because they are designed (or perhaps more appropriately: they find their way to) for a very narrow circle of consumers. A series of reliefs on Formica slabs imitating expensive materials, which he named Hard, has been created from a combination of black-marker drawings and real-life objects like rubber gloves and match boxes. Even concerning his next series, and as the title, Liberated Household(2000), suggests, the home is the central point. These objects were created for an exhibition of the same name at the gallery Na bidýlku as a natural continuation of thought on his earlier installation, Morning 2001, the difference being that in the Liberated Household series the suggestion of the uselessness of the objects he creates is far more accentuated. This idea is expressed with pieces like a cigarette box turned inside out or an armchair made from ear swabs. Mančuška explained the meaning of these contrasts in an interview with Jana and Jiří Ševčík: “My works may look like a house, no one knows if it’s real, or just a prop. The back side of a prop reveals the construction, the scaffolding that holds it up. You always know it’s a house, you know where the windows are, but you think about it in a slightly different way. I turn the whole object upside down to show it does not have just flank. It has much more of them and, when destroying one sight principle, layer after layer reveals. That is a key component to understanding the meaning of what I do. I offer a different view on all these materials, their cross-references to the way people treat these things and their conceptual meanings. I enjoy the order of revelations a viewer has to go through when looking at my work.” Mančuška deals with the idea of revealing all the possible aspects of an object and the subsequent shifting of meaning in further works like the …and Back Again series (2004), a collection that helped him to earn the Jindřich Chaloupecký Prize. At the exhibition of modern art in Brno’s Moravská Gallery he covered selected works with metal slabs, into which writings on the relativity of history and the interpretation of art were engraved. The works were possible to be seen just through the holes. Mančuška developed this tenet in many of his latter works, including the Reed It! collection (2006), in the installation at the Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York. This form of inscription incorporated into the artwork of Jan Mančuška has become more and more prevalent over the last several years. The writings include simple stories, and personal anecdotes and observances made by the artist himself. Yet this technique is becoming less of an “eye catcher” and more of an essential element to his works – the narration, offering various possibilities. In his collections, While I Walked… (2005) and True Story (2005), the artist’s commentaries are scribed on separator strips, allowing on-lookers to decide how they will read into the words. By doing this, Mančuška not only changes the space, but he also calls on his audience to interact by forcing them to move through the zone in order to read the texts. Despite the fact Jan Mančuška’s work is deeply anchored in the day-to-day context of a local world, he is one of the few Czech artists of the younger generation to establish himself on the international scene. He has become an astute and original narrator of the triviality of our lives through works that are more than just visually alluring.

Author of the annotation
Pavlína Morganová



1991-98 Academy of Fine Arts Prague, Jitka Svobodová, Vladimír Kokolia, Vladimír Skrepl
1986-1990 Secondary School of Applied Arts in Prague

2005 Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlín, DE
2003 ISCP, New York, USA
2001 Neue Galerie, Graz, AT
2000 Rotterdam, NL

2004 Jindřich Chalupecky Award
Member of art groups included in ARTLIST.
Bezhlavý jezdec


Solo exhibitions
Ján Mančuška. The Most Important Is Always Visible, Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, Poland
Ján Mančuška: Čas Príbeh Proster, Moravian Gallery, Brno, Czech Republic

First Retrospective, City Gallery Prague, Prague, Czech Republic
First Retrospective, Kunsthalle Bratislava, Bratislava, Slovakia
The Big Mirror, Meyer Riegger, Karlsruhe, Germany

The Missing Room, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York, NY
Meyer Riegger Gallery, Berlin, Germany

Everything that really is, but has been forgotten, Meyer-Riegger Berlin, Berlin
A Never Ending Story, Calanda, Spain, (curated by Chris Sharp)
This is how it re­al­ly hap­pened, Georg Kargl Box, Vídeň (Wien)
Ján Mančuška, Komunikační prostor Školská 28, Praha (Prague)

Tíseň z nejprve vymyšleného/Bange vor dem zuerst Ausgedachten, (with Jeanne Faust) Galerie Karin Guenther, Hamburg

Actor: “Have you been there…?” Actress: “He said after a while”, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York
Southwest pillar and its shadow at the beginning of the novel, tranzitdisplay, Prague
Only those wild species that appeal to people will survive, Kunsthalle Basel

Sorry for Being so Late, West London Projects, London
A Gap, Galerie Meyer-Riegger, Karlsruhe

The First Minute of the Rest of a Movie (with Jonas Dahlberg), Neue Kunsthalle St. Gallen, St. Gallen

Home Alone, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin
The First Minute of the Rest of a Movie (with Jonas Dahlberg), Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn
True Story, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York
Time in Sequences, City Gallery Bratislava, Palffy Palace, Bratislava

Ján Mančuška, Marc Foxx (West Gallery), Los Angeles
Read it…, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York

Jan Ondreicka Boris Mancuska, with Boris Ondreicka, Centre for Contemporary Art and NoD – universal space, Prague

Love, with B. Ondreicka and J. Alvaer, Open Gallery, Bratislava
Prague 13, Gallery V. Spala, Prague

Me, gallery MXM, Prague
Group exhibitions not included in ARTLIST.
Nach dem Frühen Tod, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Baden-Baden, Germany

The Beginning of the Century, Galerie vytvarnēho umēní v Ostravë, Ostrava, Czech
Rekonstrukce, Galerie Emilia Filly, Usti nad Labem, Czech
Report on the Construction of a Spaceship Module, New Museum (The New Museum of Contemporary Art), New York City

Začátek století / The Beginning of the Century, Dům umění, Ostrava

Země se otáčí a vše z ní sklouzává / The Earth Turns And All Things Slip Away, hunt kastner artworks, Praha

Začátek století / The Beginning of the Century, Výstavní síň Masné krámy, Plzeň
Ostrovy odporu: Mezi první a druhou moderností 1985 -2012, Veletržní palác, Praha

Česká malba generace 90. let, Dům umění města Brna, Brno
Sebrané úvahy, Entrance Gallery, Karlin Studios, Praha

Fisch Leave No Traces, Künst­ler­haus Bre­men, Bremen
East Bound, KAI 10, Raum für Kunst, Düsseldorf
Reel Subjects, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York
Photo I, Photo You, Calvert 22, London

Transformation formates – identities, The Brno House of Arts, Brno
Where is the wind when it isn’t blowing?, Kunstverein Hamburg, Hamburg
After Velvet, Permanent Exposition of Czech Art, City Gallery Prague
Die Welt als Bühne, Neue Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin
Je est un autre, Galerie Meyer-Riegger Berlin
The Matrix: An Unstable Reality, 28th Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana
curated by_ Vienna 09, Engholm Engelhorn Galerie, Vienna
Windows upon Ocean, 8th Baltic Biennial of Contemporary Art, Szczecin
Any-Instant-Whatever, Photomonth in Krakow and Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow
The Eventual, from the collection FRAC Bourgogne, Futura, Prague
Compass In Hand: Selections from The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Zvon 2008, Prague City Gallery, Prague
Other than Yourself. An Investigation between Inner and Outer Space, Thyssen – Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna
Scene Missing, Galerie Georg Kargl, Vienna

Pratiques du (Non) Visible, FRAC Lorain, Metz
Against time, Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm
The word in art. Research and the avant-garde in the 20th century. Mart – Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Roveretoin, Italy
There is no Border, Galerie in Taxipalais, Insbruck
Made in Germany, Kunstverein Hannover, Hannover
Between Two Deaths, ZKM, Karlsruhe

tranzit: Auditorium, Stage, Backstage. An Exposure in 32 Acts, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt am Main
Riss, Lücke, Scharnier A, Galerie Nächst St. Stephan, Rosmarie Swarzwälder, Vienna
This is Not for You, Discurse der Skulptur, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna
I/Ich, Performative Ontology, Secession, Vienna
Yes Bruce Nauman, Zwirner and Wirth, New York
Undo Redo, Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel
Of Mice and Men, 4th Berlin Biennale, Berlin
Kontakt, MUMOK Vienna and tranzit studios, Bratislava

Model of Word – Quadrophonia, La Biennale di Venezia – 51. Esposizione Internationale del’ Arte, Czech and Slovak Pavilion, Venice
The Last Generation, Apex Art, New York
Wall Pieces, Galerie Jan Mot, Brussels
Déjà vu, Atelier Augarten, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Wien
Narrow Focus, tranzit studios, Bratislava
Zvon 2005, Biennial of Young Art, City Gallery, Prague

Passage d’Europe, Musee d’Art Moderne, St. Etienne
The Ten Commandments, Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Dresden
Time and Again, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Open, Arcadia University Art Gallery, Pennsylvenia
Hot Destination – Marginal Destiny, House of Art, Brno

Things you don´t know, K&S Galerie, Berlin
Prague Biennale 1, National Gallery, Veletrzni Palac, Prague
Balkan Consulat, < rotor > association, Graz

Centre of Attraction, 8th Baltic Triennial of International Art, Vilnius
Pass me the Butterfly, d.u.m.b.o. Arts Centre, New York
Manifesta 4, Frankfurt am Main
Fourth Biennial of Young Artists, City Gallery Prague

Laboratory of Contemporary Tendencies, National Gallery, Veletrzni Palac, Prague
Überlebenskunst, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin

Distant Similarities – Something Better than Cosmetics, National Gallery,Veletrzni palac, Prague
Andrew Kreps Gallery, Chelsea, New York, USA
Other realisations

Selected performances:



The Reverse Play, Archa Theatre



The Invisible – Acting in sequences, 4+4 Days in Motion, 14th International theatre festival, former Federal Assembly building, Prague

Civic Play, part of Place and Formula performance festival, GASK, Kutna Hora



Reverse play –Theatre, Takkelloftet, The Royal Theatre Copenhagen, part of U-Turn, The Quadrennial of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen

Falls an mir was Gutes ist, dann bin nur ich das, der das weiss, Stadtkino Basel (in collaboration with Kunsthalle Basel and Theater Basel ), Basel



If there is anything good about me I’m the only one who knows, Svetozor cinema theatre / tranzit.cz, Prague

The Invisible – Acting in sequences, Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm

The Invisible – Acting in sequences, Frankfurter Kunstverien, Frankfurt





Rozhovor Jána Mančušky s Jiřím Kovandou, Frieze No.113, březen 2008 (v aj), www.frieze.com/issue/article/jiri_kovanda/



"Mám rád lidi, kteří to pročísnou", Respekt 31/ 2008


ČT 2, kultura.cz 21.7. 2008, www.ceskatelevize.cz/program/10169309707-20.07.2008-18:30-2-kultura-cz.html


16.5. 2007, 17.30, DigiLab AVU, živé vysílání, archiv



časopis Displayer, Basel, listopad 2007



"Focus on...Ján Mančuška", Frieze No.102, říjen 2006 (v aj), www.frieze.com/issue/article/jan_mancuska


Umělec 1/2004, Ingrid Chu / „Read it / Čti to“ - Ján Mančuška v Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York


Personal texts not included in database

Interview abou the Backwards Play on RadioWave (Archa Theatre, 2010)




Center for Contemporary Arts Prague www.fcca.cz 2006–2018
This website is archived by National Library of the Czech Republic within the project WebArchiv