Josef Achrer/ Pro-jection and Ab-straction
Opening: 7 June 2016 at 7 p.m.
8 June – 9 September 2016
Texts and curatorial direction: Václav Janoščík, Monika Doležalová
A guided tour of the exhibition with the artist: 16 June 2016 at 6 p.m.
The exhibition Pro-jection and Ab-straction at Kvalitář presents a selection of works from Josef Archrer’s DATA series. It began to take shape during the artist’s stay in the Chinese capital in 2013. His fundamental constitution of a landscape painter enabled him to be confronted with the extensive technical infrastructure and the pervasion of the virtual world with public space. “The sojourn in China had initialized one of key changes to my thinking. I became conscious of many correlated issues, such as the speed and capacity for societal development or what is the place of an individual within that process. In the city, I took pictures of broken advertisement displays. The quivering geometrical patterns on their surfaces inspired me to a new working method,” describes Achrer his visit to Beijing. The thoughts written down there and after the return to Prague confirm the importance of the journey; they were later expanded to a broader meditation on the sociological phenomenon of a human need to be constantly supplied with data and information. Subsequently Achrer synthesized his aquired knowledge in the manifesto Dataism and the Infomaniac Society, which was published in 2016 and is still (symptomatically) available online.1 The manifesto was divided into 13 sections called Information Nos. 1–13, together linked by the themes of art and modern technology. For example, we learn that “To create lasting, universally valuable objects is to generate rare data, not susceptible to time, but rather those which gain on significance and new meanings. This is the basic concept of Dataism.” (Information No. 2). As a possible artistic direction, Dataism “is not bound to form, it is not an aesthetic style.” (Information No. 8).
In his statement Achrer relates to the tradition of theoretical programmatic texts and manifestoes throughout the history of western art. This particular kind of literature accompanied the progress of modern art, the births of great artist groups and the work of outstanding individuals; in respect to Josef Archrer’s own abstract art, one is reminded of, e.g., the book of a founder of abstract art, Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, published in Münich in 1912. As is the custom, the manifesto is supplemented with an illustrated appendix, here specifically the DATA series. In it, we can observe a transformation of the image surface structure with geometrical grids (a technique previously utilised in Achrer’s theses work Empire Pangea in 2010 or the series Living Sector of 2011), pressing the colour matter through the canvas fabric once the frame had been deformed, or the employment of the RGB colour scheme. The year 2015 saw Achrer resolve to a more audacious, real, physical articulation of paintings. “From May 2015 on, I create consciously deformed paintings, which approach the third dimension closer in their alternation, imperfection, information, manipulation, and yet remain essentially paintings and data,” introduces Achrer his intention.
At the exhibition Pro-jection and Ab-straction, the described shift is represented by works unseen to date: RGB3D Surface No. 2 (2015) or RGB3D Line No. 7 (2016). The explanation of formal variability among these works lies in the liberated theoretical point of view (see Information No. 8), which enables the author to further develop his work on several levels simultaneously. It revolves around the principle of projection: the sides and reverse of his objects Achrer paints in RGB, which, when installed, is reflected on the white background of a wall. The effect is similar to one of a television or a computer monitor, which generate the image behind the projection screen. Thus the pieces produce a subtle play of light, evocative of the artist’s feelings from Beijing, the city “full of contrasts, energy and RGB light.” In addition, Achrer notes: “For me, colour on a canvas represents a means of transporting colour to the air. I paint the light so, emerging in the world of RGB. I reached this with the understanding of the canvas as a grid, capable of transmitting colour or light through the tiny voids between the knots of the fabric and creating a pixelated picture.” 3 Apart from the thought process, the DATA visualizes the artist’s working method of exhausting the current possibilities of any given theme within one series to its limits.
Josef Achrer (born in 1982 in Prague) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, Studio of Painting of Michael Rittstein in 2010. In 2007 he temporarily frequented the Studio of Painting of Stanislav Diviš at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. Following year Achrer spent four months on a residency in San Francisco Art Institute, USA. In 2013 he undertook a study tour to China and Beijing. Josef Achrer is a laureate of the Critics Award for Young Painting (2012) and a former member of the since disbanded artist group OBR.
Achrer’s work was presented in numerous group and solo exhibition, e.g., at Mánes Gallery (OBR at Mánes 2008), The Brno House of Arts (Golden Age, 2014; Outline!, 2013), Wannieck Gallery in Brno (Czech Painting of Generation Y, 2011, and a solo show Push the Leaks, 2013), Times Art Museum in Beijing, China (Up-Youth, 2014), Gallery of Art Critics (…ffffrom the Earth, 2012), GASK (Landscape No. 22, 2012). etc.
He lives and works in Prague.