Eternal fire. Sad cook. Aperture.

Jan Boháč

08.01. – 02.02.14

The starting point of Jan Boháč’s exhibition is his personal, thorough and detailed knowledge of the world of fire fighters. Knowing this environment very well enables him to explore the whole subculture that has formed around this specific occupation.
This has resulted in a set of sculptures that deal with a wide range of questions and their relevance to fire fighting far outreaches the mere technology that has been employed to create them. Although singeing and melting are very content-addressed procedures in this context, it is particularly the forms of individual objects that carry meanings referring to the author’s primordial experience. They put forward themes and experiences that are inseparable and, in many respects, also a necessary part of the fire fighting culture and mythology. The viewer is thus confronted with a peculiar kind of humour, representation of borderline emotional states and with pathos. Thanks to this, objects overreach their narrow professional definition and deal with much more general questions.
However, the author uses some other ways to defend himself from literality. One of them includes the use of traces of destruction seen on the statues, which has become a method of his work. Showing openly how the works were made prevents them from being regarded as carriers of invariable truth or values. At the same time, it reminds us that the chosen technology is hard to predict and hard to grasp when it comes to its results. This feature is subsequently bestowed upon the final forms. Their determining characteristic features is thus not a one-way communication of an exact meaning, but rather disturbing indefiniteness that forces us to chain associations and search for our own interpretation. This process is enhanced by the names the author chooses using irony, often led by how he personally perceives the objects.
The formal language used comprises not only the topics themselves, but the objects are also partly formed from another level. This level is not represented by the fire fighting culture itself, but rather how it is perceived by the outer world. Special attention had to be dedicated to works of socialist realism that glorified heroism and dedication. Their exalted formal realization resounds also in the presented sculptures. Nevertheless, this line is constantly disturbed, which results in a reminder of an official and limiting perspective that is continually exposed to different formal realizations. It gradually becomes just one of many possible ways how to grasp the subculture in a wider range of possibilities.
The exhibition represents a set of works stemming from a specific environment with its own poetics and mythology. This, however, plays the role of a catalyst. True, the resulting sculptural works remain to be linked with their starting points through many references, but they are also independent objects. Depending on the viewers’ approach, the exhibition may become a probe into dealing with individual experiences, an opportunity for exploring formal questions or even a mental safari in the field of problems that are usually not linked with contemporary art.

Text by Jitka Šosová