Antonín Střížek / Illusory Lightness 

The date of the exhibition: 3. 7. - 3É. 12. 2020 

The OPENING: 2. 7. 2020 - 17:00


The illusory lightness and elegance of Střížek’s canvases in fact conceal a language of significance, with which the images speak. The earlier romantic conviction that art is able to transform the world and change people’s lives together with the sense of their existence is not prevalent anymore. Now there is a post-romantic painting based on the painter’s ability to share an individual experience of the material world of objects that surround us in our everyday life. Their image, however, can instantly uncover a deeper truth about the ordinary. 

In the same way, Střížek’s aesthetic voyages to romantic landscape and his admiration of Caspar David Friedrich cannot be perceived as a nostalgic homage to romanticism and its capacity to capture immanent astonishment as well as the transcendent sublime emerging out of the tension between a moment and eternity. It is much more a humble gesture of the viewer, who investigates the possibilities of romantic painting in the post-romantic age and questions whether a retrospective view might not be the last trace of romanticism, which we can still recognize today in the flood of bacchanalia and agony of imagery being played via digital technologies in the global web of the internet. 

Střížek’s canvases reveal in their own way the Heidegger’s idea that not even art could transmit the absolute truth and that each artistic truth is always bound to our present existence. The artist doesn’t own any author’s right to the truth stamped by his genius. To the contrary, the truth is an illuminating loophole opening between the image and the viewer, quite independently from the artist. 

The works of Antonín Střížek do not stand guarding the authenticity, but face a task to constantly strive for the ideal image hidden in the multiplicity of renderings. What could be the aesthetic expression of a realist painting in the age of its not only mechanical, but mostly digital reproduction? Will the viewers still have the ability to understand a classical painting and its realist techniques, when new digital media enable the almost instant reproduction as well as the self-reproduction of the captured reality? 

The hand of the artist is ever more important, even though artists increasingly use digital techniques of reproduction. The imprint of the hand is present in the work. Today we could hardly find a realist painter who would not use photography at his work. David Hockney photographs a landscape at sunset with his iPad in order to later transform it “in his own image“ with a visual software on a screen. In a similar way, Antonín Střížek walks around the city and country and takes photographs in order to then slow down and transform selected photographs into autonomous paintings.

The sense of a painting does not lie in reproduction, but rather in production, in which peculiar conditions and circumstances are being analysed and enable the paintings of objects to become new representations and independent symbols. One of the deepest paintings by Antonín Střížek is in my opinion the canvas with a close detail of a lightbulb in a blue and grey socket hanging on a green cable in an empty space. It does not shine. On the contrary, it is lit by an unknown light outside the image. Having said that, the lightbulb’s shadow is placed in such a way that the viewer gets an impression that the source of light must be somewhere in his immediate proximity and that the viewer himself must inevitably be lit, too. 

Where does an image start and where does it end if it is not limited by a frame? We are not in a Platon’s cave and we do not have to fear fine art as he did, for we know that images do not mimic, but rather create their own reality. So then, what is real and ideal, immanent and transcendent or material and symbolic? In an ideal image such distinctions are blurred and instead, a loophole of truth opens between the work and the viewer as well as the joy of pure painting and uniqueness of rendering. Such loopholes and joy are without doubt present in the works of Antonín Střížek.