March 22, 2019
a project by Jiří Kovanda
I leave you 3 kisses that are actually 4
This could have been an e-mail from Jiří Kovanda, but instead, it is what he left behind in Salvator Rosa. 3 kisses that are actually 4 sets of X kisses. The first set of kisses are 3 X’s made with found branches. The second set, 3 flour sacks with 3 scissors. The third set of kisses, 3 X’s that Jiří wove parasitizing some nails used by Zbyněk Baladrán to hang his collages. And the fourth set, 6 books on tourism standing on a pallet one against each other forming 3 X’s.
What else can be said about a plain, simple and lovable gesture as 4 sets of 3X kisses?
Jiří Kovanda (1953) has been one of the outstanding conceptual artists of the Czech art scene. He organised his first performances in public environments in Prague in the mid-1970’s. His minimal actions, all based on a detailed scenario, were all recorded through photography in black and white and instruction leaflets. In the eye of the artist, the work of art is made up of these documents, these performances having no other aim than the traces that are recorded. In his performances, those mundane actions appear slightly off-key, allowing us, through this combination of apparent simplicity and unbalance, to grasp at the individual and what remains real and human in a society under surveillance.
After 1978, Kovanda staged minimalist and poetical interventions still recorded through a photograph and a text while the artist vanished completely from his interventions which deal with the very notion of traces. In the 1980’s, Kovanda turned to painting before abandoning all artistic practices. His work was rediscovered only recently and Kovanda has
been active again creating installations, paintings and performances as discrete still and poetical in which he strives to find beauty in everyday life and to map out a space where the individual can actually exist.