Fotograf Gallery

Jan Mahr
— Synthetic

Opening: Thursday, July 15, at 6 pm

I have known Jan Mahr for many years, which need not ever (sometimes) be a criterion for judging or exploring his work, but for me it still is (at least for now). Lately, however, I do not really want to intellectually discuss in detail and describe the art that surrounds me, looking for the subtle web of messages, reasons, correlations, etc. that exist within it. On the other hand, I do realise that I no longer know how to get rid of the certain degree of the ‘evaluative instinct’ that exists somewhere within me. This not only stimulates me, but it also irritates me with its persistent sense of responsibility that may not have any justification. So yes, Honza’s photographs, specifically those from the Synthetic series, are a subject of contemplation for me, and, in that contemplation, I look for space for the common word ‘why’.

Moreover, my reflections, as is the case with others, involve many chambers, nooks, stairways, or, in other words, many levels concealing even libidinal exclamations, whispers, fears, and anxieties. And everywhere there is a void resounding with emptiness. Such as that contained even in the succinct words ‘like’, ‘refined’, ‘silent’… What if I dared to write only a single sentence about Jan Mahr? Maybe: Jan Mahr’s photographs are almost invisible and they do not concern themselves with the medium of photography at all. Full stop. Or: Jan Mahr’s photographs are balanced on the threshold between refined ordinariness and dangerous lyricism. Here is another possibility: It is as if Jan Mahr’s photographs are about light and the items he selects are meant ‘only’ as evidence of it. Or what about this: Jan Mahr’s photographs only play at being objective, to provide something we can grasp within the mental space of our experience (anxiety). Possibly: Jan Mahr’s photographs are about the melancholy of the present, which painlessly empties into nothingness. But then I would have to say: The photographs of Jan Mahr distil their pain in the relentless present into a meditative force, where nothing is truly nothing. And then add, or replace: With their primary aestheticising effect, they stir me to anger, which, however, immediately has no justification (laughter)… Simply said, I value Honza’s photographs, I follow his work (when I can), I polemicise over it and I am glad that they are, even if they are not.

Jiří David


Fotograf Gallery is supported by the Czech Ministry of Culture and during the year 2021 by a grant from the City of Prague amounting to 630 000 CZK.