Robert Šalanda

28.05. – 22.06.14

It is our human nature, or at least the habit we have come to grow over centuries, to refer not only to official history, but also to personal memories materialized through souvenirs we have collected on our journey of life. Probably everyone of us has many souvenirs on bookshelves or hidden in a box under the bed. But where shall we store worldly wisdom that we gather as our lives go on? We may see a comeback of diaries and albums, although the era of tablets is against it, unless we happen to be too far from the civilization and power supplies. The internet has become a new fount of folk wisdom and philosophy of life of various depths and dimensions, where we can share – unlike in the case of traditional feather stripping or haymaking – our advice and opinions with anonymous recipients. We all know that a great part of digital communication cares very little of diacritics and the quality of the language as such; concerning the content, similarly to a digital camera that we can take many more pictures with than when using a traditional reel, we release many more words into the virtual reality than we would write on paper. Every other of us is today a Facebook philosopher and many of us have their own websites where we gather our own or reproduce someone else’s wise sayings. Due to the fact how easy it is to reproduce and modify these sayings and probably also due to the fact the group of recipients is only vaguely known, we can come across many formulations that may sound funny or sad, but secondarily they represent the persistent human desire to overcome the ordinariness and share – even if through such a transient medium as the internet is – something that could be everlasting or universally valid.
Robert Šalanda operates in his works with an imaginary database of abstracted visual or language signs. His source of inspiration is a whole stockpile of digital pictures and images from everyday life, ranging from road signs or favourite tattoo patterns to semiotic analyses of writing. His works are characterized by using quotations – he often repeats once used a motif in other of his works, but in different and unexpected connections and contexts. Šalanda’s approach is distinguished by two positions: one of them is predominantly intellectual, based on almost scientific elaboration of sign material. He employs the intuitive aspect here particularly when treating the medium of painting itself (and its occasional overlapping into the third dimension) and through often surprising or seemingly irrational combinations of visual-content elements that consequently evoke an impression that “randomness” was created using a mathematic algorithm. The second position is a lightened stylization stemming from the author’s obsession with low verbal and pictorial culture, the world of sports, jokes about life. Both approaches organically permeate in their final outcomes, although one of them is usually more dominant. Šalanda’s minimised abstraction is inwardly smiling, its intelligence discovers the (human) simplicity. Hackneyed visual elements are packed into a well-thought-out rhythmical composition and even the most banal one has been placed into the right position.

Text by Karina Pfeiffer Kottová