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Artlist — Center for Contemporary Arts Prague

Sam Sráč

First Name
Birth place
Place of work
Česká Bříza
CSU Library
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About artist

“Nothing has almost vanished completely.” (Sam, 2011)


The main motif in Sam’s work is the removal of ‘artificial cultural frameworks’. The artist uses a variety of resources, rational analysis, hyperbole and emotional interventions to achieve this aim. He concretises this theme in paintings, texts and his concept entitled Vision of a New Culture and its Place, on which he has been working since 1989. As well as his artistic activities he heads the gallery Sam83, and curates and publishes (exhibition catalogues, limited editions, the magazine PIŽMO) and organises residential courses.


An example of the continuation of artificial frameworks of culture, in this case language, is Babrdón. This was originally a parody on theoretical texts without content. In the text Sam breaches the structure of the words, shifts their meaning and inserts homonyms. Though the meaning is apparently nonsensical, the content is intelligible. He points to the inadequacy of language at articulating reality. Summer Puking (Letní blití) (2010), objects made of enlarged plants with yellow flowers hanging from windows into the street, is a three-dimensional comics-style reworking of the flower pots adorning summer parapets.  Two artificial frameworks are placed in confrontation: the personal initiative of women to “intervene in town planning”, and architects’ ignorance of ‘floral stereotypes’. This approach, in which Sam selects inconspicuous situation to address a problem – the latent threshold – is characteristic of his work. He deliberately inserts into the visual field underexposed ordinary situations, within the dullness of which contours lose their responsibility, origin, cause and effect. In the pictures n.p.(národní podnik) KT (Šumavan) (2010) he uses an almost monochrome image of shirts with small differences in size 1:1. The unity of the shirts is reminiscent of the seriality of products and the slight difference of their fate, as they return to an intimate ‘physical’ relationship with their wearer.


Sam generally uses a template that he then modifies. The templates and the creation of variable patterns is linked with the theme of intersubjectivity and individuality. This motif appears in the videos Šičky (Seamstresses) (2008), Jes' why me (2009), and TAK DOBROU! (SO GOODNIGHT!) (2012). His first works using templates referred to memory and associated the forms captured in the retina. In later works he develops the theme of the image as the main method of creating Western Christian culture. Since 1986 he has repeatedly depicted one concrete cypress tree. He has created a cult around the tree through the sheer volume of photographs, objects and pictures that depict it. As well as using templates, he works with drawings. In Propisce na plátně (Pen on Canvas) (2010) he enlarged automatic drawings created while on the telephone. During the basically illegitimate transformation into an image there is a focused inspection of his own unconscious act – the detection of irrationality as a natural part of awareness. In the exhibition Particular Damaged – 15:25 Původně jsme měli pracovat (Originally We Were Supposed to Work) (2012) the thermal drawing in looped carpet is a reflection of the direct responsibility for the resulting form of the work. Since the 1990s ceramics have played a significant role in his work. He focuses on the creation of fetishist items. In the latest series of decorated hotel tableware he again addresses the theme of concealed turning points, in which the designer of the disdained utility objects ‘promotes’ them by adding gold, glass paint and transfers.


All of Sam’s procedures, in respect of both form and content, relate to the Vision for a New Culture and its Place. This is a concept that he created on the basis of considerations regarding the character of Czech culture at the end of the 1980s and start of the 90s. He executes a transformation by means of subprojects that realise the ‘vision¨. These are divided into social projects, socio-cultural projects, eco-social economics and free expression. These projects can be evaluated from the viewpoint of social intervention.

Author of the annotation
Denisa Bytelová




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