Surůvka, Jiří / Twins
digital print, synthetic canvas, 150 × 150 cm
purchased in 2020 with the financial assistance of the Czech Ministry of Culture
This work is important for a number of reasons. It is a typically provocative example of Surůvka’s art, combining a conflict-free, harmonious element with a contrasting element that represents violence. The artist plays with contrasts by integrating distinct and autonomous signs with each other; viewers are pushed out of their comfort zone and away from clear and obvious moral standpoints. Stability is eroded by the visual integration of two entirely incompatible worlds – childlike innocence on the one hand, and on the other hand Adolf Hitler, one of the worst mass murderers of all time. However, this combination does not take place as a dialogic confrontation, but rather in the form of a direct projection of some of Hitler’s typical attributes (such as his moustache and his hair) onto the physiognomy of a child’s face. The power of this work lies in Surůvka’s brave decision to impinge on the inviolable world of childhood and, within this world, to address the enormously weighty trauma of 20th-century history. Alternatively, we can also view the work as a certain deconstruction of a myth. The familiar face of the tyrant, exuding concentrated fury, is replaced by the face of an innocent child – and this hints at the possibility of a certain reconciliation, an awareness that every person is born as a pure being, and can be perverted by circumstances or by upbringing; this awareness places an enormous responsibility on us all.