Josef Valčík


Josef Valčík is the protean element of Studio Valčík. He is not protean in the sense that he changes his approach to art or his style based on some current trend or fashion. On the contrary – his approaches to painting, photography and sculpture contain certain features constant over long periods of time. These features include the same thematic approaches and motifs, a constant range of works and genres and constant technical approaches and brushwork. Yet in spite of these constants, Josef Valčík – unlike the other members of this studio – is not satisfied with one type of painting; he continuously moves between the various fine arts, struggling with their limitations. Josef Valčík began his career as a painter of landscapes, flower bouquets and nudes and it is his interest in these genres that was able to pass on to his children Magda and Aleš. The use of acrylics and a passion for pastose brushwork has however led him towards abstract compositions with symbolic references. These works began to appear in the mid-nineties and have influenced how all of his previous and subsequent works are viewed. Since that time, his flower bouquets, nudes and landscapes are simply pretexts for the unrestricted rhythm of his painting that has become characteristic for how he sees the world. Josef Valčík may be considered a protean being for yet another reason. He has willingly walked into the pictographic cycle of advertising, visual provocation and kitsch in order to continuously question the value of his own participation in more complex and conflicting levels of the “iconosphere”. This is what has led to polarities of symbolic meaning and empty gestures, commerciality and independence, and sacredness and obscenity in his work. These polarities first came to the surface in his nudes and almost subject-free compositions and reached their full development in his portraits, hunting scenes and photographic compositions of painted naked bodies of women and ceramics that treat naked bodies with irony. If however we attempt to reach for something in this protean flow of paintings using various media that motivates their creation, we can see the footprints of this protean nature in the painted, photographed and sculpted worlds of Josef Valčík. He begins painting by announcing the color that will define the shapes on the canvas; he inserts colors into bodies and gives a ceramic-like patina. We find that it is not possible to link Josef Valčík with one color or typical chord. Rather his uses the contrast of dark monochromatic surfaces with lively multicolored ones. His photographs bring the immediate and unique to the game of documentation. His sculpture has always been linked with space and volume, which can be seen in his varied three-dimensional shapes of fired clay as well as in the stylized compositions of movement and the intersection of natural bodies and the spontaneous and yet severe acrylic splashes. The previously mentioned polarities in Valčík’s works can be traced through his photographic, painted and sculpted works. His photographs reflect connotations of advertising, the tabloid and commerciality, while his sculptures are important for their totemic and pseudo-memorial nature. His paintings reflect possible links to the pure and aural and on the other hand are full of studiedness and meaning. These three media with their own internal memories open up a varied horizon of possibilities and together create a picture of the artist Josef Valčík’s personality. Each reflects a different ego, a different side of his being. But it is only through their interaction that we can truly find signs of his internal integrity.

Professor Marian Zervan, Ph.D. (b. 1952) is a theoretician and esthetician in the fields of art and contemporary architecture. I is the author of books of sacred iconography and as a curator has organized exhibitions on Slovak architecture at home and abroad. He has also written the catalogs for these exhibitions. He is an assistant professor at both the Faculty of Architecture of the Slovak Technical University in Bratislava and the College of Fine Arts in Bratislava.