Trafo Gallery is to play host to a solo exhibition of one of the key artists of the generation born in the 1970, Zbyněk Sedlecký, a painter for whom the relationship of the observer and their surroundings is crucial. Sedlecký deals in situations triggered by personal experience linked to the photographic record as point of departure. The selection of his recent work will be accompanied by a publication with the same title offering an overview of his current output.

While Sedlecký’s older works relied more on static photographic templates, and structurally transposed the technical surface of the medium into the distantiated, “documentary” character of the resulting painting, his more recent works draw objects and figures together into an intimate proximity with the viewer, an immediate distance, within reach, where they “breath” with their presence. In his most recent paintings there is a new way of personalising the seen and the depicted. The paintings are more compact and create a sense of the internal movement of forms within their explicit contrasts and complementarities (the focussed detail versus the blurred background, the firm versus the soft, the living versus the material, etc.).

The exhibition title Propman is both accurate and misleading. It places the artist within the ambiguous role of someone who, under the given conditions, acts directly, on his own behalf, or who constructs confusing artistic situations (Rekvizitář / Propman, 2022). In Sedlecký’s works we find both strategies, namely, the game principle, the distancing of the observer, the irony of the narrator, as well as very open, intimate examinations of the world of personal introspection that need no commentary. Looking into the mirror is at the same time a generalisation of sensory perception at a specific moment in time, a reference to the interconnectedness of human perception and thought (Oko / Window, 2020), as well as the shortening of a specific occupancy (diversion) in a place (the studio), which deepens doubts and anxiety around what is in reality happening around (Zezadu II / From Behind II, 2020; Bez názvu / Untitled, 2021). Everything finds its archetypes and justification somewhere in the past, whether a historical and civilisational past, or a personal past.

Zbyněk Sedlecký’s paintings are not the manifestation of a “personal mythology”, which would construct something from the perspective of the transcendent authorial subject (Bagr / Excavator, 2020), but an attempt via a painterly excursion into specific genres to revive the relationship to the immediate world as something that is de facto natural, but something that must nevertheless be rediscovered, unveiled, and welcomed anew (Oči / Eyes, 2020; Žlutý talíř / Yellow Plate, 2022).         

The exhibition Propman, working completely non-theatrically with a half-open, half-drawn curtain, is a contribution to this. It is the absorption of this metaphorical device (the curtain) into the reading of the figuration that exceeds the power of the propman, who no longer merely carries out the instructions contained in the approved script, but operates in the wider field of what is actually to be found in front of and behind the curtain as such. Sedlecký thus touches on the fateful interface that distinguishes banality from seriousness and authentic lived experience from any profligacy, manipulation and premeditated imitation. As he himself says: “I have always enjoyed treading the line between the banal and the important, and this is reflected in my selection of motifs and themes. As both artist and viewer, what I look for most in art and in painting in particular is a certain authenticity and credibility.”

The exhibition also features a bilingual catalogue of the same name, with graphic design by Jana Vahalíková, an introduction by the curator Petr Vaňous, and an interview with Sedlecký himself.

We would like to thank the exhibition partners: the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, Prague City Hall, Canadian Medical, ČEZ Group, LEX Auto, UMPRUM, Art District 7, Prague City Transport Company, SbírKa, sro, RadioColor, Radio 1, and Wine4You.