Jan Merta: Dear Jan! For Jana and Jiří Ševčík with love

3. 2. – 19. 3. 2022

Galerie Zdeněk Sklenář is holding an exhibition of pictures by Jan Merta entitled Dear Jan! For Jana and Jiří Ševčík with Love. Specifically, it consists of twenty-six artworks – painting and other techniques on paper – the majority of which date to the most recent period. The common link between Merta’s new works is a loose painting theme, within which we find various approaches to painting as a medium. Even in this case, Merta is not trying to find his own personal painting style. What he finds are more of what can be called means of visual expression and diverse forms of depiction, for which he uses purely subjective concepts and momentary experiences. Both form and content are exposed to subjectivity and imagination, whether it is a large picture (painted using such things as even a broom), or an ethereal image painted with coffee, a work with traces of acknowledged materials (such as a wood panel peeking out from a monumental painting, a broken ventilator component, a bandage), or a canvas replicating the traces of the coffee and milk the artist spilled on his studio floor. The artist borrowed the exhibition name Dear Jan! from the eponymous text written by art theorist and curator Jana Ševčíková, which was published in the catalogue for Merta’s 1998 exhibition. 

The exhibition is dedicated to Jana and Jiří Ševčík, art theorists and curators who recently celebrated important birthdays. “I also want this exhibition to serve as a reminder of the legacy of Jana and Jiří Ševčík, who are inseparably linked with the post-revolution development of contemporary Czech art. They are the ones who significantly helped to promote contemporary artists, not only in our country but also abroad. My friends celebrated their eightieth birthdays, one last year and the other the year before last, and it’s necessary to remember them,” says Merta. 

Merta is a repeat exhibitor at Galerie Zdeněk Sklenář. In 2010, the gallery and the artist collaborated on the exhibition Jan Merta: Stockhausen’s Symphony, in which Merta felt the need to express himself regarding the shocking and unacceptable (not only to the artist) statements made by the German experimental composer Karlheinz Stockhausen about the 11 September 2001 attacks in New York. He returned to the gallery eight years later with his exhibition Jan Merta: 70% Artist, 30% Tram Driver.
Galerie Zdeněk Sklenář has published several books and fine press publication to which Merta has artistically contributed. In 2010, it was Oldřich Král’s new translation of LAOZI: The Way and Its Power, the two versions of which included Jan Merta’s original paintings and serigraphs. On the occasion of the publication of this fine press publication, Galerie Zdeněk Sklenář organised the exhibition LAOZI at its Smetanovo nábřeží venue. The catalogue for the exhibition Jan Merta: Stockhausen’s Symphony was published in that same year, and then three years later, another of Oldřich Král’s translations: LAOZI: The Book of the Way and Its Power. In 2018, an eponymous book of interviews was published to accompany the exhibition Jan Merta: 70% Artist, 30% Tram Driver. Jan Merta is represented in numerous collections both in the Czech Republic and abroad.