The poetics of enigmas in the work of Jaroslav Valečka
The work of Jaroslav Valečka has evolved logically and continuously since the end of the 1990s, when the author finished his studies at Prague's Academy of Arts. Since 1991 he has gone through the painting studio of Jiří Sopko, the sculpture studio of Prof. Hendrych and has been on scholarships to Germany, Norway and the Netherlands. Apart from all that he received various prizes, e.g. The Soros Foundation Prize (1993) or The Hlávka Foundation Prize in 1996.
However, despite the sheer existence of an extraordinary and elaborate integrity of his work or the evidence about its quality which the prizes have seemed to suggest, his pathway to success has been complex. It has not been easy to push through in the past decade or so with a landscape painting on the edge of magical realism, or with lyrical portrait painting, which the author has simultaneously been pursuing in the second thematic line of his work. Particularly the first few years were quite pathetic.
Nevertheless, years of relentless work, cooperation with smaller galleries at home and abroad and taking part in extensive exhibitions, e.g. Perfect Tense in 2003 at Prague Castle's Riding-Hall have slowly made him an indispensable name on Czech art scene. Valečka is currently rated one of the most outstanding representatives of the younger middle-aged artists. His painting follows the classical line of figural and landscape painting. His work is highly expressive, yet very painstaking and stylistically pure, balancing on the edge of a simplified naivety.
Captive unto the panoramas
Valečka's landscape painting is absolutely unique especially because of its intensive feeling of nostalgia, ruin and dreariness. His landscapes are analytical studies of loneliness: they are inhospitable and unfitting for life. Some of them are winter landscapes, which makes the mentioned feelings even stronger. Valečka's paintings typically depict bare mountain sceneries, deep woods and abandoned piedmont houses. Out of the many possibilities that his landscapes offer he characteristically chooses the ones that pass the spectator's acceptance, and depicts the ones to which the spectator is yet to relate.
Two lines of themes can be distinguished in the author's work: the first one develops silent, meditative, panoramic views and awesome forest sceneries. The other line shows landscapes with people. These are most often countrymen, anonymously mobbed at a local occasion, e.g. around a fire in the woods or at a mysterious rustic wedding on a damp winter plain. These sceneries recall bizarre, indefinable pagan rituals. His figures tend to blend into the landscapes: they are inanimate and indefinite. In most cases they have no face, and none of the humans is depicted with physiognomic accuracy. They are shadows, impressions and representations of humanity. As characters in a play they witness the existence of obstinate highlanders in a waste and inhospitable land of a peculiar magic. The roughness and anonymity of the landscapes mirror the characters of the inhabitants. Valečka's paintings make the panorama of northern Bohemian borderland link closely with the dreary atmosphere of mutually alienated people and their minimal emotionality.
The figuration concept
Valečka's figural painting is typical for its symbolism: it is a landscape with a staffage of humans. Here again he emphasises anonymity, emptiness and mystery, evoking moments of magic and the mysterious aura of the displayed figures. If his figuration recalls any models at all, it is most definitely the figuration of Edvard Munch.
Naked, shameless girls are covered with a veil; portraits of lonely men in empty, spacious rooms are covered with a shadow; the portrayed characters which are stripped most have the physiognomy and the colouring of the resurrected. Valečka also often deals with the extreme case of death: ghastly pale dead men in coffins, women on the edge of psychical exhaustion, people fallen across the composition.
The themes of Valečka's paintings are by no means frolic. They are mysterious and in some cases symbolist and bleak. They are cynical. His favorite Sudetenland's atmosphere resonates with his figures.
Valečka does not court popularity. He is looking for a spectator who can understand. He develops formally and thematically from one exhibition to another and this shows his continuous ingenious pursuit. This catalogue gives evidence of its fruits.