Geometrical shapes, straight lines, large printed letters in a row, a grid with a code, figures, squares, a repeated photograph. Tomáš Pospiszyl characterized Jan Šerých´s work well when he wrote: “With many of his works it is difficult to decide whether we are looking at an artwork or reading it.” While looking at a black surface with one letter which is multiplied or with words which are arranged like in a dictionary, we try to find a key to the order embedded in the picture. We are looking for the beginning and end of a word.

We may be asking whether we are more interested in the shape of the words or their meaning. What about if it is neither this nor that? What about if our effort to orientate ourselves in the picture is more important than coming up with a solution? Provided this is the case, the attention of the viewer-reader slowly shifts from the actual artwork to the question how does the surface of the picture/word/letter communicate with him. The viewer-reader suddenly realizes that the pictures are speaking to him. They say “UUUUAAAA” or “GOODYEAR”. The rules of their coding liven along with this dialogue. Suddenly there is no viewer-reader and image-word. There is only a stream of communication with different meanings floating in it together with ways of reading, various times of understanding, codes, loud and quiet sounds, figures and letters.

Jan Šerých together with Josef Bolf, Ján Mančuška and Tomáš Vaněk was a member of the group The Headless Rider which they founded in 1996 while still students at the Academy of Arts. Perhaps they share a certain austerity of expression, but it is hard to describe or analyse the affinity of their work since there is no “typical oeuvre of Jan Šerých” or “typical oeuvre of Ján Mančuška”. There are only individual works whose meaning is completed in relation to the viewer. Similarly it is impossible to arrive at something that might be called the correct reading of works by Jan Šerých. The viewer either still lacks information needed to solve the puzzle or he has too much information and finds it difficult to sort them out. However, we should know that some of the paintings by Jan Šerých are tricky. They appeal like an illegible dream which keeps coming back again and again.

Anna Remešová

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