May Day by Jakub Švéda
An idea that painting dwelling in abstract or abstracted positions cannot have a sharp politicizing, social and critical appeal has been unfounded since the beginning of this modern way of artistic creation. On the contrary, an abstract expression has become the target of social and artistic criticism; totalitarian systems, whether those built on Marxist postulates or on the National Socialist doctrine, were seriously afraid of the abstraction.
Jakub Švéda (born in 1973), a painting descendant of the painter and member of the 12/15 group, Tomáš Švéda, definitely knows this and therefore also knows that even his abstractly felt paintings can still have their dangerous potential even at this time. Colour spots typical of Jakub’s painting narration are associated with structures, as well as assembled objects, so the painter cannot deny his studies at Jiří David’s studio at the Prague Academy, where he moved from the Sopkov studio. He graduated from David’s studio in 2001, and Jakub surely felt close to David’s visual strategy of fragmentary narration, sober colourfulness, structured iconography and the belief that an image can be anything and communicate any message. In this way, Jakub has been incorporated signs, advertising allusions, short inscriptions and clusters of letters into his paintings.
Everything a painter does is based on the underlying belief in the vulnerability of the biological nature of man and his world; biohazard tags and such inscriptions as Warning are generated from this iconographic appeal. The contrast between the biologizing sedimentation of colours and the multiplied remnants of plastic civilization, whether they are straws or syringes, often permeably linked by a rational structure, illustrates dilemmas of our time. Jakub has been doing so throughout the 21st century, thus warming our peaceful receptors to a disturbingly high temperature. However, the concern we feel about James’ upsetting nervous aesthetics is a proof that even the abstract art can also contribute to – perhaps futile – attempts to save human lives on our oxygenated planet.