The Czech art scene has its own Spiderman. „Fröhlich? He´s the guy who climbs, isn´t he?“ Yes, most people when they hear the name Vojtěch Fröhlich (born in1985), will picture a blue-eyed muscleman, wearing climbing shoes and with some stuff smeared on his hands, hanging with his head down from a lighting device in a gallery.
Therefore we may expect questions about where is the division line between sport or acrobatics and art? Is Fröhlich „a genuine artist“ or just a stuntman and showman? The division line may be a very thin one, however, Fröhlich manages to balance on the side of art.
We could support this statement by a historical excursion related to conceptual art and body art. When Fröhlich, who studied at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts before the Academy of Fine Arts, did a 24-hour performance within the project Fragile Cinema and then spent a week in a locked, dark space in the Gallery Jelení, he was testing his physical and mental stamina. Similarly, his body became a „medium“ also in the projects Little Heart and 42,195, where movement in the landscape played an important role. In other cases we may speak about minimalist – zen exercises, for instance oooOOO°°°…000. Clean-up – the cleaning of the artist´s caravan before his journey to Calvary had a meditative character.

His academic education is another reason why he should be ranked among artists. It is above all the „avantgardist ethos“ of art and life blending together. What is the difference between climbing a rock or walking on a tightrope outdoors and doing similar things in a gallery, in an artistic context? Many people may keep wondering whether it is not just a trivial show, however, provided art is supposed to arouse strong emotions, then Fröhlich has succeeded really well. Just the view of the rope stretching high above the exhibition hall in Veletržní palác and the very thought of a man walking on it may cause a psychophysical reaction, vertigo. Of course there is also the aspect of testing the institutional conditions or their implicite criticism.
However, those stunts are not an end in itself, they are not meant to be just a show. We may say that Fröhlich works above all with what is going on in his mind. This was well apparent for instance in HO13 within the framework of the exhibition Journey or in his performance that was a part of his exhibition in Drdova Gallery, in which he climbed to the top of a building through flats.
Sometimes physical abilities are a means of artistic activism as in the case of the joint projects called Merry-go-round and Enlightenment.
Fröhlich is not afraid of gestures which provoke by being „non-artistic“, which was the case of one of his end-of-the term works when he set up a bistro at the Academy of Arts, or by being „anti-artistic“ as in the case of the exhibition entitled End of the World for which he „prepared nothing“.
Fröhlich just doesn´t bother too much – he just rubs chalk in his hands and starts climbing. But he manages to maintain an incredible lightness, an ability to keep to the point and to surprise at the same time.

Tereza Jindrová

one comment for “Vojtěch Fröhlich”

  1. V. says on30. Jan. 2015:

    Jankovi tam nejak vypadl konec tak az bude na netu tak opravi…

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