J.K. got at visual arts at the age of 15, in relatively liberal atmosphere at the end of the sixties. He proceeded with intensive studies of literature and later translations of professional texts from English.
He visited Poland in the mid-seventies to discover polish conceptual artists. Only after that he met also the Czech conceptualists Petr Štembera, Karel Miler and Jan Mlčoch.
Despite the oppressive spirit of the time and political pressure, first actions arose without obvious political aspects, having their basis in the sphere of human relationships and often being of minimal effect. Having started with performance art, he gets at installations at the turn of the 70s and 80s, substituting himself as an actor in the performances with various materials. Being limited in expression, these installations keep being inconspicuous and imperceptible, the course of time disappearing.
And the like the other Czech conceptual artists, Kovanda started setting limits to his conceptual work at the beginning of the 80s. Unlike his colleagues, who had withdrawn from the art scene, Kovanda, influenced by emerging Postmodernism, started painting again. A lot of paintings in acrylic and mostly of an A2 size date back to 1980 – 1985. The exhibition in Futurum club in Prague in 1984 was a matter of importance for the artist. He presented his pathetic and ironic text on his wn work there, in which he professed to be a “Sunday painter”, expressing this way a kind of relief from the order of painting to a certain extent. He sets different materials and found things into his next paintings, thus using his installation experience.
In 1985 he met young artists – organisers of Confrontations exhibitions, and exhibited there, too. Owing to his conceptual experience, not only did he reflex but also took an active part in the diversion from neo-expressionism in Bohemia in the second half of the 80s.
Kovanda`s eclectic period ends in about 1990, just to start a period of installations using everyday non-spectacular objects, modifying them and executing similar non-spectacular interventions.
Jiří Kovanda, Vladimír Skrepl, Forum Stadtpark, Graz
Jeřábková Edith, Jarní vánoční ozdoby, A2 kulturní týdeník 22/ 2006, s. 9
Magid Václav, Jiný druh intervence, A2 kulturní týdeník 22/ 2006, s. 9
Chuchma Josef, Papír, nůžky, lepidlo, A2 kulturní týdeník 2/ 2007, s. 9
Zálešák Jan, Jiří Kovanda v Klatovech, A2 kulturní týdeník 21/2008, s. 8