JAN SAMEC - QUADRATURE OF THE SQUARE
Art & Event Poit Černá labuť
Na Poříčí 1067, 110 00 Praha 1 - Nové Město
Jan Samec (born 18 November 1955 in Karlovy Vary), a painter and ceramist from Karlovy Vary, is a legend of the local art scene. He is not only a continuation of the local family artistic clan – his father was a painter, his sister Varvara Divišová is also a painter, and his son, all Janes, is also an artist – but he is also the long-time director of the Karlovy Vary Gallery of Fine Arts. The duality of artist and gallerist is not usual, but in Jan's case he manages to combine both activities in a very harmonious way and to cultivate artistically the spa region, which was fatefully tested after the Second World War by the abandonment of the German population. With the cultural cultivation in a different environment, Jan, as a descendant of the White Russian emigration to the first republic of Czechoslovakia, has literally genetic experience.
And the ability to define himself artistically in each environment and at the same time to expand aesthetically is also hidden in his painting. He believes in the painterly construction of the image as cultivated and developed by modernism. The abstract compositions formed by subtly gestural strokes of colour both relate to the primarily autonomous existence of pictorial relationships and emanate a subtle reflection to the landscape or its residue in artistic memory. The West Bohemian landscape, somewhat defiantly undulating towards the Ore Mountains, cannot be ignored, nor can the fact that Jan's father was, and his sister is a landscape painter. However, the painter is also attracted by geometric interventions, or rather the possibility of geometric delineation on the picture surface in the form of a square. Geometry does not exist in nature; it is a civilizational and cultural phenomenon, and in art one of the key elements of modernism. The mutual encounter between the painting surface and geometric delineation leads to an aesthetic tension, which in Samec's case, however, tends towards harmony. At the same time, however, this relationship emanates an experience where human activity enters nature through geometrically structured buildings, creating a cultural landscape. Samec's paintings have this relationship somewhere in their genetic key; his paintings also expose the necessity of maintaining the aesthetic dimensions of the cultural as a prerequisite for maintaining the image itself and its effect on the cultivation of everyone.
As with almost every late modernist painter, we can also talk about the development of context in the context of abstract art, and about the degree of abstraction of reality, especially when we remember that Jan studied at the Faculty of Philosophy of Charles University under Zdeněk Sýkora. In 2019, at another univerzity, namely the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, he even became the subject of a thesis by Jitka Vlčková, who mentions the link to Sýkora and at the same time believes that "the artist tries to understand the world and himself through his work. He is not looking for an ordinary real landscape in nature, but for nature in landscapes with answers to the fundamental questions of human existence." Not to take away from the univerzity adepts' enthusiasm, however, even given his Sikorskian training, I think that in Samec's case, too, it is mainly an enthusiasm for the possibilities of painting as such, for the existence of painting, for the action of colour, and for the possibility of entering rationally into painting and the image, thus developing its still infinite possibilities. Especially when we remember that Jan also creates paintings without squares.
Martin Dostál, curator of the exhibition