Jiří Kovanda

Jiří Kovanda first appeared on the art scene along with the second generation of Czech “actionism” in the late 1970s. He has recently been discovered in the West through his minimalist actions and “action-interventions,” which might be referred to as protocols of general record. They differ significantly from older Czech Fluxus activities, which had pedagogical and utopian aims, and from those of his contemporaries, whose performances often explored physical and existential frontiers.

Nonetheless, Kovanda was a unique artistic figure in Bohemia, modulating from an approach involving actions and conceptual art to another concerned with new painting and post-conceptual objects in the 80s. His paintings and drawings may be characterized as ironic systems exhibiting a plethora of meanings all bound together without restraints. They involve a language of fuzzy contrasts that engender an infantile microcosmos. The system of his language is always more important than any possible final statement.

Kovanda’s poetic interventions, his minimalization and ephemerization of things and his sullying of the everyday are all strategies for surviving debasement. In truth, they are also political – they stand politically at an aesthetic distance from official institutional art and take a political, anti-metaphysical stance against the morality of unofficial art and any transcendental ambitions it may have.



1953, Praha / CZ, at that time ČSSR



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