Zbyněk Sedlecký – MIRROR

Vernissage 22.02.2024 18:00
Curator Jan Kudrna


Gallery of Contemporary Art and Architecture – České Budějovice House of Art

There are various ways of working with painting as a medium. One could essentially say that painting tries to transcend its own boundaries. One can theorize about painting in any number of ways, comment on it and categorize it, or one can take up painting oneself. Historically speaking, the more is said about painting the less fundamental a period painting experiences. It wasn’t that long ago that being a painter meant operating in a certain (op)position. One had to fight for one’s position, and what is more, painting was engaged in a crucial struggle with itself in its own backyard. In the ideal case, none of the above applies to you because you are just beginning to form your own position. You are a part of it – or, better yet, you are painting it. You are not the creator of and automatic participant in open-ended and frequently deteriorating works, many of them created for their own sake.

The entire essence of being an artist rests in having and expressing free creative will. And although, more than anything else, this means being in opposition to the majority, there is no position more solid and more autonomous. It is irrelevant whether a painter has painted a loader, a digger, a spoon, a plate, or him- or herself. Just look at the chain of all possible ideas and possibilities available: basically, ever since people began making art, artists have reflected on society and its nuances more sensitively, more precisely, and often also more objectively than any other group in society. The reality and dynamics of life in recent years have been changing as well.

The partial relativization of what until recently were canonical values and automatic certainties has been accompanied by a certain evident paradigm shift. Over the past few years, Euro-American culture and art have occasionally witnessed an almost compulsive need to suppress self-importance. The subject of representation is no longer just a steadfast and invulnerable individual who is young, beautiful, and determined to change the course of history. The current position allows for a realistic image not just of people but above all of their fundamental and, importantly, their foundational surroundings. It is not a universal description in the sense of “I paint what I see,” since this becomes or can become a trend. In this post-truth era (the word “post-truth” was named Word of the Year in 2016), practically anything goes. Situations that can be called reality or can be made into reality often become the truth. And this can be done even more quickly using the automatic, carefully mechanized certainty of a valid and accepted outcome.

Zbyněk Sedlecký installs himself into parallel situations and moments. They are banal moments in which he finds himself alone, exposed to picturesque situations that play out against vague, socialistically-tinged backdrops in opposition to his own current state, meaning his current position. It is a kind of counterbalance to personal reality and to contemporary reality in general. It is not a reflection in the traditional sense of the word. His own person, his own body, is like a medium for a concept, for a stream of ideas. The same goes for the previously mentioned everyday objects. Their physical image, in these cases their shape as defined by inexhaustible functional and practical experience, is important, but even here the optics of mere representation are insufficient. Objectness and form are a medium for a story that is reflected and mirrored in painting. The most important thing, however, is that it is painted. It is subjected to an ancient human process that Zbyněk Sedlecký does not talk about. He does not offer a comprehensive statement, nor does he offer a helping hand where the gaze alone should suffice. He paints because his capabilities and stylistic repertoire are an open dictionary and a philosophical guidebook.      / Jan Kudrna /


Born in Ostrava in 1976, Zbyněk Sedlecký is a member of the strong generation of painters that emerged onto the Czech art scene at the turn of the millennium. He studied under professor Jiří Načeradský at Brno’s Faculty of Fine Arts in 1995–1998, and under professor Jiří Sopko at AVU in Prague in 1998–2002. He also did a study exchange at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Stuttgart in 2000 and one at the Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp in 2003. Sedlecký’s work has been placed within the context of contemporary art by exhibitions such as Artnow.cz (2003, Mánes Exhibition Hall, Prague), Resetting: Other Paths of Materiality (2007–2008, Prague City Gallery), and the long-term exhibition After Velvet (2009–2013, Prague City Gallery), and also through his involvement in the Liverpool Biennial (2010) and the Česko! Ein Tanz art project (2011, HangART, Salzburg). Recent exhibitions include High Noon at Prague’s Václav Špála Gallery in 2018, Propman at Prague’s Trafo Gallery in 2022, and last year’s Inscenation at the Telegraph gallery in Olomouc.


Gallery of Contemporary Art and Architecture / České Budějovice House of Art

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