23/3 – 19/5 2024

Jan MERTA - Petr VESELÝ

Both Jan Merta and Petr Veselý are prominent artistic personalities belonging to the generation of artists who entered the art scene in the 1980s. Although they are almost the same age (Jan Merta was born in 1952, Petr Veselý in 1953), their professional careers have been quite different. After having graduated from the Prague Academy, Petr Veselý returned to his native Brno in the late 1970s, where he worked as a secondary school and university teacher at various art schools. Jan Merta did not graduate from the Academy until several years later. Since the 1990s, he has been heavily involved in gallery operations and his paintings have attracted the attention of foreign gallerists.

While Petr Veselý tends towards maximum abstraction and simplicity, Jan Merta works with varied colours and develops a certain narrative in some of his paintings. Even in his themes, Merta may seem more ‘playful’ than Veselý, but this is far from setting the rule. Both artists also like to step outside the field of what one is expecting of them. To both of them, painting is, above all, an expression of something that cannot be communicated in any other way. In their understanding, a painting has meaning only when it cannot be retold, when every brushstroke has its own meaning and importance. Their joint exhibition does not aim at looking for external similarities in their canvases; rather, it seeks to draw attention to the internal affinity of their respective works. It is not about their sharing certain themes, but about their sharing the elementary approach to painting as a unique language of knowledge and naming the surrounding world.

The selection of the exhibited paintings was guided by the leitmotif of home, with all its intimacy and spontaneity, as well as its breadth and multilayeredness. Here, home does not mean just one’s own intimate or family environment, but also the cultural roots and ties which determine one’s nature and which shape one’s view of the world. This includes memories of one’s childhood house or room, as well as paraphrases of works of world painting, personal relationships and relating to God and transcendence. Home is all that cannot be put away or bypassed; it is what remains and to what we can return.

The idea of exhibiting Merta’s and Veselý’s paintings side by side stems from the strong belief that their mutual dialogue or confrontation does not detract from their message, but rather that they reinforce or complement each other. Seeing the works of one of the artists can help to a better reading of those of the other.