Artist: Thomas Jeppe
Curator: Michal Novotný
Centre for Contemporary Art FUTURA, Holečkova 49, Praha 5
Thomas Jeppe wrote the Abstract Journalism manifesto, a propositional text about an art-making methodology. This text describes the artist, on his research journeys across cultural landscapes, chancing upon a picture, object or situation - a loaded symbol - which immediately announces itself as the “solution” to a situation. This symbol, taken as a form, is then disengaged from its original context and woven into a semantic constellation in a process of aestheticization. This allows for a general reorganization of its potential meanings, purposes and possibilities.
Formally extending this ethic, the exhibition Neo-Lad revolves around the theme of dandyism, the struggle with social rules and boredom, and a godless spirituality. More generally, the exhibition is about freedom and release, about delimitation, structure, and attitude.
In his essay Neo Lad about Australian “lads”, a subculture of inverted dandies identified by distinctive styles of branded sportswear, Thomas Jeppe speaks about the culture that is “a dance in the streets”. This dance is “a physical, delinquent pirouette; the partners' authority, the built environs, history” and whose music is a “chosen inevitability”, a resignation without despair. Alongside this essay, Jeppe’s exhibition comprises several reconstructed compositions of paintings by Czech romantic-symbolist painter, Jan Preisler. The works Jeppe chose were generally Preisler’s late ones characterized by planar emphasis, simplified shapes and a marked intensity of colours. Their over-stylized carelessness stresses a kind of void of the timeless dreamy youth portrayed. However, the viewer can only see cuts of it, framed by a diagonal hexagon, a graphic motif of a period advertisement depicting the Lucerna building compound from the bird’s eye view, as featured in Václav M. Havel’s book “My Memories”. The hexagon intersects Preisler’s painting, framing it within an asymmetric dynamics. These works, as historical echoes, are presented in parallel with large posters of intimate social photographs of Australian teenagers at the turn of the millennium. These photographs radiate the feeling of carelessness, being at once specific and expressing a sense of universality. The posters, along with several painted reworks of Preisler’s sketches for advertisements, are captioned with proclamations from the text of Neo-Lad.
All works exhibited in the FUTURA Gallery were created during the 6-week production residency in Prague, a part of the A.I.R. FUTURA