Jiří Černický

Jiří Černický


Jiří Černický’s work is full of expressive transformations, extreme gestures and also particular humour. Each work by this artist hides a strong story both in the content as well as at the level of seeking adequate expressive resources. Should we wish, nonetheless, to formulate a certain common denominator, then it is essential to mention first and foremost his incessant ability to express an almost childlike wonder and, at the same time, a willingness for open communication, often exaggerated to the point of conflict. Indeed, it is these two components expressing strategy that allow Černický, as if part of perfunctory surfing trip, to expose the dominant waves on the surface of contemporary society.

A certain ambivalence of creative principles otherwise appeared in Jiří Černický’s first fundamental work, Slzy pro Etiopii / Tears for Ethiopia (1993-94). At that time the artist collected from rubbish containers located at the Emil Filla Gallery in Ústí nad Labem the tears of local residents, who after a month of toilsome pilgrimage handed over to the abbot of the monastery in the Ethiopian town of Lalibela. A limited pathos and creative aloofness crossed paths with personal engagement and the artist’s intense physical participation in this project.

Jiří Černický used a similarly ambiguous approach in one of his own formally most-dynamic works, i.e. in the multimedia installation, SONY Garden, dating from 2002. As part of this work the artist engaged in a communication process with representatives of multinational companies and obtained their material support. He later primitively and doggedly destroyed this sponsorship in the form of dozens of various hi-tech electronic devices (monitors, VCRs, printers) and from the materials obtained he constructed a sort of minimalist Zen garden. The global character of the Japanese economy was thus confronted with the traditions of local society and its culture. The impersonal and perfect aesthetic of industrial mass production was transformed into the shape of a post-modern visual haiku.

This relativising approach is not however typical only for Černický’s spectacular and conceptually-limited installations. Rather it appears in his seemingly light-weight and aestheticising painted projects. For example, we can recall without a doubt the bravado-like image series, Bin Ladinova lampa / Bin Laden’s Lamp dating from 1999. In this work the artist combines the principles of colour and shape ornamentalism with specific social themes. The shining and almost hallucinogenic surfaces of these images are complemented by an array of figurative details symbolising the differences in mutual relations between Euro-American and Arab society and culture. The naive and idealised images carried with us from childhood on the almost fairy-tale-like Islamic world of the Middle East are purposely shot down through kitschy pseudo-portraits of warriors from various religious terrorist groups and movements.

text: Michal Koleček