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House of Art
TUE–SUN / 10:00–18:00

Jasanský, Lukáš – Polák, Martin / Jan Merta

2011

136 B/W photographs, 34.3 × 48.5 cm, photograph descriptions, 8 × 14.5 cm

purchased 2018 with the support of the Czech Ministry of Culture

The cycle of photographs entitled Jan Merta reflects the duo’s specific creative strategy. As in the series entitled Director and Founder (which mapped the activities of the director of a small Polish cultural centre), the cycle Jan Merta gives a documentary account of the authentic living space in which the painter Jan Merta lived and worked, and which had a decisive influence on his life and work. As in the duo’s other cycles, here too there are no photographic records of Jan Merta’s childhood or adolescence. The painter’s personality is constructed in a different manner – subliminally, via secondary images, settings, and simple documentary records of landscapes – including a large number of buildings with which Merta is associated. The cycle functions as a strongly integrated entity. The photographs bear no traces of sentimentality; they are strictly documentary, and rather than working with expressive emotionality they contain a form of technical narrativity. The photographs are accompanied by descriptions of locations and events. Jan Merta’s wife Marie played a key role in the creation of the work; without her, it would not have been viable to create this unique set of 136 photographs.


JASANSKÝ LUKÁŠ – POLÁK MARTIN

(*1966, Prague) and Lukáš Jasanský (*1965, Prague) Polák and Jasanský are a creative pairing of conceptual photographers who have been collaborating since the mid-1980s. They met at a graphic design college in Prague, and went on to study together at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. While still students, they took up a stance against the modernist approach to photography that was dominant in Czechoslovakia at the time. Their success has mainly come on the international stage. Their work is rooted in their autonomous approach to photography as a conceptual means of expression freed from the restrictions imposed by aesthetic and scenic frameworks – restrictions which impact not only on photography, but on visual arts in the broadest sense. Their work is not characterized by any single unifying theme, though certain ideas recur in their oeuvre, such as the idea of everyday life or the activities of an individual. Although they apply professional photographic techniques, their work can be read as a criticism of the media, and it contains a strong ironic and subversive component. They thematize the quiet, sometimes even banal expressive power of a setting in which humans are visible only as a secondary presence, in images, objects and the wider setting. Polák and Jasanský continue to work as a creative duo; both of them photograph, seek out and explore themes, and select the final images for presentation. Their approach is based on a dialogue of equals, with neither of them playing a clearly defined role.
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