Jiri David

Contemporary Art and Design

A description of the work and its context

Jiri David is one of the most influential artists of the Czech contemporary art. He works with photography, digital media, serigraphy, light installations, sculptures, paintings, collages…

A description of the artist’s intentions for and the meanings of the work

He works in Czech Republic, but his interest is in international relations and their problems as media, terrorism, human rights and more. He by himself asserts that in the beginning he doesn’t know where the inspiration comes from. He is just an instrument of art. But he is in his work trying to find the essence of art.

A description of how the work reflects the period in which it was made, social and political influences

David’s art career starts in 1980s as member of underground movement of artists calls Tvrdohlavi. Tvrdohlavi did not have some common manifest or theme. This movement just associated artists who were against the communistic policy in the Czech Republic and whose work wasn’t acceptable for politics of those days. So after the Velvet revolution in 1989 movement did not have reason to exist. And David’s artistic career in the democracy began to rise very quickly.

David’s first works were surrealistic oils. After the Velvet revolution he starts with photography. One of his first well-known exhibitions was Hidden Resemblances in 1991 – 1995. It was series of frontal portrait photos which were separated in negative in the middle into the two same sides. Than from negatives made two portraits – right-sided and left-sided. This method was used in anthropology and psychology in early 20th Century. He made photos of outstanding persons from Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Austria, France and the USA.

My response to the work

Jiri David is criticized for his success. His critics think that he just goes with the flow of abroad artists that makes similar pieces. That he doesn’t have his own ideas and tensions. I don’t think so. If you look at his work as one piece, you can see symbiosis. His work is continuous and grows up with time. His main works are maybe “hip” and modern but with his others not those well-known pieces make a very complex organism. Organism which brain is trying to understand the basic questions of modern life through the art.

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