Abstract photographs, if we can even talk about something titled as such, have become a fairly widespread form in contemporary art. It may seem that they attempt to return quality to today’s art through an emphasis on formal possibility. At the same time, they present the possibility of presenting a conceptual understanding of photographs in the unending while of the rather rhetorical question: what is photography? What is art?

It may seem that these two forms- formal and conceptual- cannot be resolved with one another. Despite this, they are both present in the work of Jan Lesák. In his previous works there was an engagement with an appropriative technique connected with an emphasis on formal aesthetics (A Case for a Beginner 2011 Fotograf, I N S I D E, 2013 Open Studio at ISCP NYC). In the case of the current exhibition at Berlinskej Model, the artist also enters into the pole of abstract as well as conceptual photography.

The vertically oriented strips, based on the size of the roll of photo paper, look like a slit and draw one’s eyes to it. The black – zero – surface of the photo does not seem to carry any dangerous information or reference. It creates a reflection.

The work thus takes place in the viewer’s time: non-photography (shape) – photography (surface) – principle of photography (reflection). But also in historical time: photography as a medium of the technical – artistic – postmodern (transparent).
This dynamic is definitely not new. Jan Lesák’s work is closely related to the work of artists such as Wolfgang Tilmans or Olafúr Eliasson. In this context, he proves that also thanks to his theoretical foundation, he is able to conduct a dialogue, however intuitive, with the history of photography and conceptual art. Hence his interest in appropriative strategies and persistent and thoughtful work with the medium of photography.

Václav Jánoščík