Up till now Jiří Franta’s work has been dominated by a multifaceted use of the medium of drawing. His artistic thinking is derived from both an individual approach and activities within a collective as a member of the Rafani group or as part of the David Bohm–Jiří Franta art duo.
Franta is a tireless draughtsman, though does not restrict himself to this medium. He is also known for his paintings, objects and sculptures. Whatever medium he works with Franta is concerned with what for him are taboo worlds, mediality, power, comics, the mass character or mediality of the image, as well as art itself (e.g. picturesque and pedantic canons, etc.). An often sarcastic imperative contributes to breaking a certain overly determined visual reality. Franta becomes a maniacal draughtsman proportionately to the pomposity of an everyday life crammed with images. A drawing is created with a great deal of exaggeration, hyperbole of form, and the mutual elimination or substitution of criteria so as to intensify the problem that Franta is resolving, glorifying poignantly or openly ridiculing.
Along with the artist David Bohm, Franta has examined the very medium of drawing in several joint projects, whether this involved the installation of a set of video recordings for the Jindřich Chaloupecký Award or an exhibition at the Karlín Studios. The result of the impression of a drawing is the output of the preceding process of its creation by completely non-classical means (e.g. the screaming tyres of racing bikes, the leaves of trees rustling in the breeze, the digger of an excavator with a reinforced brush between its teeth, drawing on the wall with the aid of an excavator operator, a tightrope walker balancing with a long pole at the end of which there is a reinforced brush, etc. – everything always placed on the front of white canvas).
A drawing is a trace, a gesture made by its intermediary. In this case Jiří Franta and David Bohm are the initiators of a process that is intended to evoke an abstract and ephemeral medium of the line through eloquent symbols that are dragged with their meanings from the romanticising notes of a drawn landscape, via the racket and clumsiness of a drawing of an excavator, to the vain lines of the burned rubber of motorbike tyres. The visibility or, on the contrary, the blurredness of the drawing or mottos of self-reflection (which was another joint intervention within the framework of the nomination for the Jindřich Chalupecký Award) is repeated in various variations and freely transformed via formal shifts and the selection of semantic agents.
Jiří Franta does not obstinately cling to emphasising his own artistic individuality (even though this is undoubtedly present). This is clear from his approach to cooperation and the intensification of the effect of artistic thinking on the basis of the synthesis of joint energy. Another example was the exhibition Worry of the White Man at the Critics’ Gallery, which he literally constructed with Luděk Rathouský. Franta placed these transformed sculptures – originally classical plaster casts of the canon of the human head – into a cramped space half stuffed with cardboard boxes. His manipulation was radically constructed on a dazzling of the material of the model, its surface pomposity, the materialisation of the stiff heads into apparently “blooming” forms (use of real aubergines, pins, etc.). He drew on the same exaggeration in his sculptures as he had in many of his drawings, and treated them uncompromisingly.
In his pictures, too, he comments on the medium itself. He uses both barely legible mottos or statements and the language of the aesthetic principles of painting, which he embeds as an integral part of both form and content. He creates pictures with a critical visual reference to comic books, i.e. to their narrative or framed fragmentariness, the awkward and tight emptiness of the “bubbles”, or simply the compositionally mass visuality of Disney animations. The result often involves moralistic arabesques, which, however, do not poke the eye with raised fingers, but with a visual recoil of concealed transgressions or degradation. The genesis of their decay in the artist’s approach.
Franta’s work, whether individual or team based, basically represents a circling around certain thematic spheres that is filtered via the critical and tireless presence of painting, the advantage of which is the immediate possibility of transferring an idea.
Social shortcomings and incongruities, their absurdity and seriousness, are re-evaluated by the artist. Tabloid jargon, both visual and textual, is drowned in a mechanical transcription and redrawing or in critical satire. The unleashing of artistic energy – a clear opinion and subsequent act – is played out in free movement and the treatment of possible approaches. However, these are usually the result of rational considerations and mental evaluations.
Po sametu GHMP / Praha 2009 cena jindřicha chalupeckého finále 09 / Praha 2009 Praha 2007
Subvision kunst festival Hamburg / Hamburg 2009
ga2lerie, příloha týdeníku A2 / Praha 2007 intercity Berlin Praha / Praha 2007
není to to co by to mohlo být / text Tomáš Pospiszyl / Praha 2006
Jiří Ševčík, Sandná danost Ateliér 8/2008
Lenka Lindaurová, talent www.artservis.info 10/2007
Josef Vomáčka, Ve dvou se to lépe táhne - rozhovor Time in 11/2007
Jan Zálešák V rychlosti je krása, Ateliér 19/2007
Petr Vaňous, Anketa - malující umělci A2 30/2007
Petr Vaňous, galerie A2 12/2007
Karel Císař - projekt pro Labyrint Revue 19-20 2006
Tomáš Pospiszyl Jiří Franta a David Böhm: Není to to co by to mohlo být TÝDEN 36/2006
Edith Jeřábková, Na okraj jednoho experimentu A2 37/2006
Kateřina Tučková Literární Noviny 38/2006 Umělěc Jiří Ptáček 2/2003 Fotograf Pod maskou je největší tma Jiří Ptáček 7/2006