Jaromír Novotný is reassessing the classical potential of the transformation and the isolation of the media of painting from the practice of representational imagery, and yet his work is still full of surprises. This artist develops his work in cycles, where the carefully composed scores always seem, to me, to be only a temporary solution rather than something incomplete. At the same time, I am fascinated by the strength of the sensuality in his work, the tactility and intimacy of, in particular, his work on paper. Because of the specific format, the painting technique, the purist abstract thinking, as well as his remarkable ingenuity in installation, it is possible to perceive Novotny’s paintings, above all, physically. This consideration, given the current form of contemporary Czech painting, is in itself revelatory.
Novotný not only works with the symbolic media of painting as many other artists already do, but he is interested in the actual special nature of the material – the essence of the preparation for painting, the history of the working method, the principals of chance, or the quality of the technological defects. While many others have also found this an attractive region to explore, Novotny, in contrast, quite openly and deliberately keeps a close watch on the fairly strict evaluation criteria about how a painting should not look. His careful supervision eliminates everything that could be considered redundant due to semantics or it’s decorative, visual information. The artist prefers to rely on the repeated constants of psychological perception and a minimum of expression, whose form determines the technological logic and compositional deduction. Even if it is not apparent at first glance, Novotny works both very intensively and effectively with color, respectively with its automatic derivatives, such as in the form of adopting the black and white tones of photography, or the use of standard printing ink colors. His spectral light drawings – photograms – have a pure painterly character. They are created through the even exposure of photographic paper in the developing emulsion bath; you can even see where the photographic paper has been folded to accommodate it in the relatively small developing tray.
Jaromír Novotný’s most recent exhibitions introduce the result of his ongoing reflection. I personally find this, in the best sense, extremely provoking. In part, the artist remains completely indifferent to the possibilities of any imagery. Everything basically happens in the tightly packed vacuum of the closed surface; there is no chance of anything unwanted seeping in from the outside. And just as importantly, the intentionally broken connection goes hand in hand with his relatively intense work method. Jaromir Novotny is able to fulfill an exceptional assumption: that the painted or photographic resolution of the image can be seen as a completely communicable and appealing gesture, even when everything is done in the name of the desire not to show anything. For a painter, or a photographer, it seems to be a pleasant task to be able to meticulously express this apparent paradox as he does here, with a sense for maximum detail.

Michal Pěchouček

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