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Review of Tomáš Měšťánek's exhibition in Nová síň Gallery, Prague 2008

Tomáš Měšťánek is a painter capable of finding apt metaphors to express relations in contemporary, and frequently rough and ruthless, society. He chose the name of Boxing and Traffic Lights for his exhibition in Nová síň, Prague.

Měšťánek is very convincing when depicting the loneliness of individuals, as well as the unscrupulousness in their actions, the absurdity of precisely chosen stories and situations. He has mastered the classical means of fine art, i.e. drawing and painting. His paintings naturally spring from the legacy of certain avant-garde streams of the 20th century; however, the impulses from the past are distinctively recast. His paintings are influenced by Expressionism, several waves of symbolism gradually evolving since the late 19th century. We can read in them how natural the Central European way of thinking and feeling is to Měšťánek.

However, the artist draws mainly on his personal experience, the observations of many different situations and thinking about what is going on around him. It can be random events happening in a city street, but these events are somehow symptomatic of this era. They express a pub atmosphere, the expressions and looks of people staring into a void, an ironic look into an uncertain and unknown future. His painting enjoys strong expression and emanates the author’s interest in the fates of others. At the same time, the author maintains a detached standpoint and often uses hyperbole. In addition, he can illustrate his feelings with pronounced gestures and sharp, but always justified, deformation of shapes. His paintings, whatever topic they deal with, express despair on one hand, yet on the other hand there is hope that people's relations might improve. The people in the paintings keep waiting for something, only we aren’t quite sure whether they know or at least sense what they’re waiting for and if there is a chance for them to live to see it. These characters may be people who have lost sight of a goal or those who are trying to find one.

Tomáš Měšťánek’s concept draws on the works of some of the members of Group 42. Just like them, he has succeeded in capturing the loneliness one feels in crowded streets, the development and meaning of our civilization in relation to the endless universe. At some moments, he comes quite close to the night walkers by Hudeček. His characters also wander aimlessly with nothing left but dreams, which however seldom come true. Yet he paints with exaggeration and lightens the gravity of the situations with impressive sarcasm.

Jiří Machalický, Critic and Art Historian

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2008
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