rules / moderation

The less we see and less we understand at first sight, the more we (we – interpreters, curators, theoreticians) are susceptible and willing to elaborate on the basically banal and obvious fact that language as a sign system does not adhere to the world, that it is neither its vesture nor its expression – maybe a certain intermediator or environment in which we rely on acquired rules validated by fulfilled expectations; or even that language is a mere component of what the world is.

It is quite obvious that validity of the rules of language use depends on situations in which these rules are applied and checked on. The confusing ambiguity of statements, when not guided by non-linguistic coordinates, increases the lack of confidence in the possibility to assign the “right“ meaning to a sequence of letters, sounds or images. In the end, there has always to be a kind of congruence and ability to accept the deficit of completeness, to run the risk. It is perhaps only the strictly formalised language of mathematics under exactly defined conditions (among others not taking into account whether this language is written in chalk on a blackboard or in ink in an exercise book) that can always lead to a positively identical result. The decision whether we do understand something is therefore in a sense always premature – and enforced by circumstances. We always do not understand. At least in part.

The concepts of sceptical self-confidence (according to Hegel and Václav Magid) or romantic conceptualism (according to Karel Císař) actually express the work of Jan Šerých very well. Why then add any further footnotes? Maybe because to me his work has always been something like an obvious footnote, a kind of indistinct but reassuring buzz of references (C. d., p. 123, see note 54, ibidem) that I may follow (if I wish) when discovering unknown territories. Minimalist means of expression, smooth surface of paintings, the elusive world of projections, stage design of allusions and ciphers. Here are lions.

This exhibition attempts to find another way of presentation of Šerých’s videos, to enclose them in the small space of a monitor, to guide the viewers towards the image and to move them to try to understand the poetry of the artist’s constructivist gesture, to give the floor to his sceptical moderation vis-à-vis possible messages and sharing, vis-àvis self-important subjectivity as well as self-conscious matter-of-factness, that we (maybe unwittingly) pride ourselves on so much.

Marek Pokorný

Jan Šerých *1972

— graduate from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague; in the 1990s member of the artistic group The Headless Horseman (together with Ján Mančuška, Tomáš Vaněk and Josef Bolf). Jan Šerých is one of the most inspiring figures in contemporary Czech art. Characteristic features of his work include minimalistic form and the use of the language of geometry, sign systems and codes, often hiding processed emotional experience. His work combines the “high” with the “low“, pure aesthetics of reduced forms with the sphere of pop culture and mass media, scepticism about the possibilities and the meaning of the artwork, exploration of the limits of language or various ways of classifying information with purely subjective impulses. Analogically to Sarah Morris, Cerith Wyn Evans or Liam Gillik, Jan Šerých develops his own specifically aesthetic, ethical, critical and subversive aspects of abstraction, the language of geometry and the process of conversion of contents caught in signs from one system to another by means of codes directly related to self-reflexion of the limits of both personal and artistic statement.