A. Rezler, Felix Juvenein Gallery, Kutná Hora, Vlašský dvůr, 6.5. – 24.5.2009
The artist Pavel Kříž was born in Prague in 1959. He studied painting with the Karel Souček studio at the Prague Academy in 1978–1984. During his time at the academy Kříž acquires the tendency to work on figure paintings and cyclicality and probably also due to influence from a former member of group 42, Kříž also leans to the current civilian topics. His freelance artwork also shows experience from restoration activity and contact with historic architecture, from which he assumes his feel for order and decoration. However, these influences were expressed in his paintings more in the years before 2000. The basis for all of his work besides painting is his feel for color and full understanding of artistic expression.
Since 1985, Pavel Kříž exhibits independently (Club of Czechoslovak playwrights, 1985; Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the CAS, 1987), in the 1990’s especially in the newly established private galleries in Prague having a clear exhibit profile such as Galerie Béhémot (1992), Galerie Pecka (1996, 1998, 2005), Galerie Nová síň (1994) and the last exhibition of this type of presentation at the Galerii Václava Špály (2006). Despite the fact that Pavel Kříž also devotes his time to drawing and sculpturing, the center of his focus remains to be painting.
If we have the opportunity to track contemporary painting, we are always able to recognize sources, which inspire a specific work and author. It seems that lately painting is experiencing a tendency and need to make a statement in a contemporary fashion on the issue of experiencing intimacy. A French sociologist Henri-Pierre Jeudy classifies today’s political escapades, media reality shows and the contemporary trivialization with the objective to incite collective emotions and to fill the void of public life as a triumph of demagoguery. Art, as a reflection of its time, works with what is offered to it and skillfully uses its ability to apply a face lift on phenomena regardless of how negative.
Paintwork reacting to antagonisms of a flaring time, unanchored individuals through scenes full of nostalgia, purposeful isolation, and precious moments of relaxation combined with their placement into sort of edited takes leaning on film visualization. This is how we can also classify artwork by Pavel Kříž, who since 2005 has adopted a technique using the combination of aquarelle and acrylic paints, which reproduces the selected expression as if it were a form of a photographic record spread in several contours blending together in solarization veils. However, formally a painting is absolutely anonymous, full of certainty, with a sense for detail, composition.
From an older free strategy of a fanciful rhythm painting named Pláž (Beach) from 2004, which still reflects the freer painting techniques, we are chronologically making our way to works from 2005. Cooler softer tones of green and grayish-blue transparent washed surfaces give a cunning impression (Letná. Pohoda, 2005) in natural scenes with staffage. A group of paintings from 2006–2009 represents a special category, which partially formally and also contextually refers to examples of American realism from the years between the World Wars and the post War era that uses feelings of loneliness and isolation. Paintings by Pavel Kříž named Pauza (Break) (2008), V pokoji (In the Room) (2009) can remind us of paintings by Edward Hopper (1882–1967) or Andrew Wyeth (1917–2009), their nostalgia, melancholic beauty of everyday life, anonymous silhouettes in strange perspectives and odd lighting.
To a certain extended calculative “beach paintings” such as for example Rozhovor (Interview) (2008) or Akt (Nude) (2008) – other series also produced by Kříž will remind us the names of Mark Peterson, Daniel Poller, Eric Fischl. The sun and sea exotics are today becoming more and more ordinary; nonetheless it remains to be an attractive opportunity to escape from reality. The attractiveness of this content was well known to the authors of so called “American Beach Painting” or “Coastal Landscape Art”. However, Kříž’s nudity and eroticism at sun flooded beaches lacks the controversial nature of Fischl and does not urge social apathy towards perverted relationships, it seems more as a document, relaxed and encourages perception of colors. American Beach Painting is formally associated with various expressions of realism starting with hyperrealism all the way to the free more independent and personal transcripts as is the case with Pavel Kříž. It is obvious that domestic tradition is today surpassed in Czech art and current Czech painting has the opportunity to be a part of international contexts, as was the case at the start of the 20th century in the awakening modernism movement.