laminate resin, h. 260 cm

Jan Kovářík (born 1980 in Kyjov) studied sculpture at the Sculpture 2 studio of Prof. Jindřich Zeithamml at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts. He has staged solo exhibitions since 2006. His work is represented in collections such as the Prague National Gallery, GASK – Gallery of the Central Bohemian Region and the East Bohemian Gallery in Pardubice. His plaster sculpture OF–01 (2017) features in GASK’s permanent collection States of Mind / Beyond the Image and his wall-hung piece Oneira (2018) is on show at the long-term exhibition Avenue of Saints in GASK’s ground-floor hallway. In 2017 Kovářík staged the solo exhibition Xushi – The Substance of Emptiness in GASK’s Experimental Space. His best-known work for public space is the recently unveiled and much-debated monument to Empress Maria Theresa in Prague.

Jan Kovářík searches for the meaning of nature and the universe in the captivating kaleidoscope of the structures he finds in them. By gradually simplifying their shapes, he arrives at an abstracted spatial essence of their inner logic and energy. In doing so, he not only becomes a discoverer of microcosm and macrocosm, but also their intuitive interpreter. With Kovářík, the sculpture emerges gradually, through his deliberations in solitude. What emerges is an object capable of embodying the symmetry and harmony of phenomena in nature. In his work, as well as reflections of ‘divine geometry’ we can also find a refined sense of ironic playfulness expressed, for example, in the incorporating of beer cans into the construction of the sculpture. Carefully chosen (and often striking) colour plays a key role in how each of his sculptures affects the viewer’s perception.

Kovářík’s sculpture OF–02 was displayed in several other places before it arrived at GASK’s garden in Kutná Hora. In 2017 it stood in the courtyard of the Czech Ministry of Culture in Prague as part of the international festival Sculpture Line; in 2018–2019 it was installed in front of the Museum of Art and Design in the town of Benešov; and it was most recently on show at Kovářík’s solo exhibition Colorbond held at the Baroque Troja Chateau in Prague, a venue of the Prague City Gallery. The monumental sculpture OF–02 was paradoxically inspired by the microscopic action of various kinds of mould that Kovářík cultivated in jars and then fascinatedly observed how they grew and changed shape. One unexpected fungal ‘metamorphosis’ caused a sharp vertical growth that Kovářík gratefully reinterpreted into the language of sculpture. The resulting plastic form suggests countless possible symbolic readings determined above all by the imagination of the individual viewer. Together with Jan Kovářík, we can gaze at the unending wealth of visible reality around us and, with a sense of wonder, share his characteristic comment: ‘Bloody hell – those are beautiful things, aren’t they?’

Richard Drury