Jiri Straka    Eco-Ink

Jiri Straka is an artist who deeply studies one traditional technique for a long time. It is well known that the subject of his interest is traditional ink painting. Because he had studied the matter at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, the cradle of Chinese Ink painting, he became a true master of this technique. That said sounds quite regressive nowadays, archaic and anachronistic, but beware! Although he is considered a top painter also in China itself, he is, of course, notorious European, whose use of this medium is unorthodox. Despite it comes from strict, given traditional ways and methods, the way he uses it is surprising and unique worldwide. He himself became a bridge between two traditions, eminent, authentic and lively.

The traditional technique of ink painting is generally perceived as something very noble that has an aesthetic or glorious ethos, which needs to be digested and studied for a long time. It is a technique that pupils try to manage by humble little steps mostly by copying unrivaled masters. The aim of their study is to come as much close to these almost worshiped legends as possible and only few indeed manage to add to the perfection something that is considered a true, acceptable quality. Of course, Jiri Straka had fairly gone through this school, but soon we learn that he did not allow it to restrain him, which is I think quite unique in Asia. He gradually developed a fair distance to this tradition. It is not that he would reduce the mastery, he conceptualizes it in order to be able to comment phenomenon and events, which are far from the hypocritical nobility. Thank to that he is able to get critical, creatively incorrect and show us the raw almost documentary reality the Chinese society is full of and not only on the surface but above all inside where a regular visitor has no chance to get. And so we see miserable mongrel dogs drifting around the cities´ peripheries where we have no chance to get, whores hidden in bowels of joints we had no idea that exist, slit animals from markets - all of it depicted by the master with almost baroque refined opulence and with the elegance of his own.

The latest exhibition by "the master of Chinese ink industrial" goes in its rawness even further. The author is literally testing the limits of this technique. The motifs are pragmatic and very minimalistic - plastic bags, shattered glass, barbed wire. However, it is necessary to understand, that the technique of Chinese calligraphy comes from authentic natural organic inspirational sources. In connection with this mainly natural motifs have been sought so far. Hence, the technique is in its nature very soft, blurring and spreading around mostly without sharp contours, the line is never absolutely straight and it tends to curve. And that is the reason Jiri Straka put up a superhuman task to capture shapes which are in direct contradiction to what is being traditionally depicted. How to capture these cold, distant, inauthentic and soulless things produced by global industry? How to make it in line with the technique? This strategy is a smart possibility to affect the ruthless corruption of nature of all kind that is happening all around the world, but as we know, in China it is due to the economic boom reaching almost apocalyptic dimensions.

Jiri Cernicky