František Matoušek: de Nimes

15 Jan – 22 Mar 2010

The DOX Centre for Contemporary Art wishes to announce that it is holding an exhibition of paintings by František Matoušek from 15 January to 15 March 2010. This is the first extensive show of Matoušek's works, which is surprising in view of the fact that he is one of the most significant Czech painters of the middle generation. 

Like his contemporaries at home and abroad, Matoušek frequently tackles the theme of memory. He does so, however, in a way that is strikingly personal and specific, particularly with respect to his choice of material and painting techniques. Matoušek paints on denim: jeans cloth. The name of the fabric betrays its historical origins (denim="de Nîmes" i.e. from the French city of Nîmes). In Matoušek's case, however, the choice of this material is not
a reference to the earlier history of Europe but to the recent era of so-called "real socialism", i.e. the period when Matoušek was growing up and when denim symbolised a longing for a freer life.

Matoušek developed a special technique for working with this textile, which is a combination of manipulation of the fabric weave and application of acrylic pigment. Matoušek's style of painting also consists of his approach to the various genres within which he works - portraits, landscapes, urban exteriors or intimate interior scenes of family life. A key element is Matoušek's complex use of photographic and other pictorial sources, which is evident particularly in his portraits. For instance, in a painting based on an old family photograph he dresses the person portrayed in a jeans jacket. Another of his portraits is reminiscent in its concept to Picasso's Blue Period, although this is not the artist's intention and it is definitely not a quotation of any specific work. Matoušek's method might be described as "iconographic sandwiching", but an apter metaphor to describe his approach are those memory processes where collective and individual experience are linked in ever new and original ways. His works have a unique status on the Czech art scene in terms of their multiplicity of genres, technical innovation and original treatment of the theme of memory. They also beg interesting comparison with the output of his contemporaries in the rest of the world. For that reason Matoušek's oeuvre merits far greater attention from both local and foreign critics than it has received so far.