David’s artwork is ideologically based on the monumental canvas Apotheosis of the Slavs: Slavs for Humanity by Alfons Mucha. The exhibition was prepared by the National Gallery in Prague in cooperation with the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava.
Jiří David reinterprets Alfons Mucha’s artwork, whose theme is the heroic saga of the history of Slavs. He approaches it from the position of a contemporary artist with an analytical-critical point of view and an ambivalent stance. David’s black and white version of Apotheosis is an act of deconstruction, enhanced by his subtle intervention in the individual parts of the composition in the form of apocrypha. The installation is a stimulus to critical thinking about a number of serious political, economic, socio-cultural, philosophical and sociological issues that reference the past and the present of the world in the broader relationships in which local and global issues intersect.
The point of the installation with intertextual crossovers is the active spectator, whom David provides with a whole range of interesting mental, emotional and visual experiences via participation in an empty space and a cramped one with the key focal point of a corridor, where the viewer/participant encounters the reinterpreted version of Apotheosis reflected in a mirror wall and becomes an ephemeral part of it. “The installation makes the viewer think about geopolitical and socio-cultural questions of the period of more than one hundred years. Jiří David’s Apotheosis asks questions linked with the re-assessment of terms, such as home, motherland, nation, state, Slavism or history of the Czechs,” says curator Katarína Rusnáková.
The exhibition is accompanied by the book Apotheosis, Apocalypse, Apocryphon: Deified Nations, Deified Art, which is conceived as an interdisciplinary textbook inspired by Jiří David’s artistic project. Leading European and U.S. philosophers, sociologists and historians, such as Jacques Rancière, Zygmunt Bauman, Peter Sloterdijk, Timothy Snyder and Susan Buck-Morss are authors of the five selected essays. Another seven essays and studies were written by prominent authors from the Czech Republic, Macedonia and Slovakia, namely Jiří Přibáň, Václav Bělohradský, Miroslav Petříček, Karel Srp, Milena Slavická, Suzana Milevska and Katarína Rusnáková. The collection of diverse contributions resonates with the key connotations of Jiří David’s oeuvre, which focuses on historical, philosophical, aesthetic, artistic, social and political topics and introduces them into ambiguous correlations.
Jiří David (1956) is one of the most distinct representatives of contemporary Czech visual art who, thanks to his rich and diverse work, has gained a reputation not only at home, but also in an international context. His areas of creativity consist of painting and intermedia art – primarily photography, installation and public space projects. David’s artistic approach is distinguished by a high level of personal engagement and an ambition to present important messages about the pressing socio-cultural and political issues of the day. He is the kind of artist who persistently seeks inventive, innovative visual solutions and by means of his work continually poses critical questions that help the spectators to orient themselves better in the complicated world of today. David regularly exhibits in the Czech Republic and abroad and his work is represented in the collections of many prestigious Czech and international institutions (such as the National Gallery in Prague, City Gallery Prague, Ludwig Múzeum-Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest, Hungary, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Austria, The Art Institute of Chicago, U.S., and others).
May 9 – November 22, 2015
Pavilion of the Czech and Slovak Republics, Giardini di Castello, Venice, Italy
Exhibition curator: Katarína Rusnáková
Book editors: Jiří Přibáň and Katarína Rusnáková
Publisher: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne, Germany
The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery in Prague under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic in cooperation with the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic.