Jakub Dolejs – new works
Czech artist Jakub Dolejš has a lush sensibility for narrative and a unique sensitivity for how images work. He seduces the viewer in and out of his large-scale photographic paintings through various stages of association, reference and awareness. The result is both destabilizing and generous. In one of the images, a fore-grounded figure sits with his back to us looking out into a misty mountain landscape with his hand poised over a blank sketchbook. The figure is clearly a staged photograph, carefully costumed in 19th. Century walking garb. References to Caspar Friedrich himself caught in a moment of pondering the profundity of the natural world? But in this case the mountains are a painted backdrop. The flattened space between figure and landscape complicates our own projection into the beauty Friedrich finds there. In each of the works of this exhibition, Dolejš deftly leaves us hovering in that flattened space: between photographed figure and painted backgrounds between the historical quest to capture and explore beauty, perception, human desire and suffering through the medium of paint and our contemporary experiences so saturated with new media technology. That hovering pause is the gift of the work. Seeking an alternative way of looking at life and the world around us is what a lot of 19th. Century artists sought to communicate through the experience of art. Dolejš points to that painting tradition and asks us to reconsider how art can still lure us into those questions through pondering of an image. To put the nature of art and art history up for contemporary scrutiny is a bold yet familiar strategy in art today. To do so with such care for the magic of art and human experience is a different kind of boldness. Dolejš has done just that.