Trafo Gallery organized a solo exhibition of the painter František Matoušek, who differs significantly from other artists with the original ripped denim technology, which replaces the painting on canvas. The exhibition presents Matoušek's landscape work in the open air and a new series of portraits. There is a bilingual catalogue published in the occasion of the exhibition containing last painting and older works by František Matoušek, intro by Radek Wohlmuth, interview Marie Bordier with artist and design by graphic designer Jana Vahalíková.

Of course, this tendency is most clearly visible in the paintings depicting either people the artist is close to, e.g. his children in the large-format cycle Kindertherapie (2011); or places he has visited and with which he has an intimate relationship, be this Coney Island in the peninsular neighbourhood of Brooklyn, or Cala Benirrás, Ibiza. There is an almost diary-like character to the abstract landscape series from the Berounka basin, where Matoušek used to go to paint during the Covid lockdowns of the first year of the pandemic, a fact further emphasised by the precise dating of each of the completed canvases.

As he himself says: “Everything in nature changes fast, light, the movement of people on a beach... If I can, I’ll prepare the material, I’ll rip something up in advance. It depends on the motif. Working out of doors is most valuable for me in that it gets me out of the studio.”

Another example, at first glance less obvious, is the portrayal of relatively well-known personalities with whom the artist identifies for various reasons or, on the contrary, for whom he feels disdain. He perceives his model more as a symbol or embodiment of some principle or destiny. An extreme case in his recent work is the portrait of Joseph Goebbels (2022), Reich minister of propaganda, which represents Matoušek’s sharp reaction to the contemporary political situation. As he himself says in the book interview: “I’m political by nature, I’ve always admired groups like Pode Bal and Ztohoven, who were able to express themselves perfectly regarding current affairs.”

The third and perhaps most important link between art and lived experience is directly encoded in the original technology. It is so exceptional that it has become synonymous with his work. This involves combined work with denim, in which the base on which Matoušek most often creates a painting through the precise extraction of white threads from the fabric, which he then supplements with painterly interventions, is a crucial semantic component. He grew up under the communist regime, when jeans were unavailable and came to possess their own political charge, embodying not only a particular style but expressing a certain attitude. When someone wore them it was clear that they were from the West, i.e. a hostile, forbidden zone separated by barbed wire and incompatible with the profile of socialist man.

 We would like to thank the exhibition partners: the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, Prague City Hall, Canadian Medical, Skupina ČEZ, LEX Auto, Art District 7, Dopravní podnik hlavního města Prahy, TORST, Jatka78, Radio Color, Radio 1, and Wine4You