cze / en
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Golgotha - Tomáš Tichý

oil on canvas - 150 x 200
private collection

The rapidly developing works of Tomáš Tichý present one of the most original concepts of the new wave of Czech painting. He has been able to connect well-mastered and thoroughly studied painting techniques with the ability and will to keep searching for and discovering new themes for his paintings. This makes his work part of the general global trend striving to revitalise more-or-less “classical” painting by addressing current topics. Although classical painting has always had its place in contemporary art, maintaining a strong position alongside new media and experimental tendencies has not always been an easy task. In France, the representatives of the “new figuration” were already aware of the issue in the mid-sixties, when they depicted Marcel Duchamp’s (1887 – 1968) death in their collective manifesto painting, in which they symbolically threw him down the stairs and arranged a funeral for him! Duchamp’s objects, Dadaist polemic provocations, contributed to the historical relativisation of painting to a large extent. Since then, figurative painting took shape in several art movements around the world, the German “New Wild” or the Czech “New Grotesque” being some examples. The mythological archaism of “free figuration” was a radical departure from the “new figuration” mentioned above.

 The current Czech wave of the renaissance of painting is strongly supported by the tradition of good painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. It therefore has something to relate to and also much to say, naturally introducing new topics of the present reality. These are the points of departure for Tomáš Tichý’s creative journey.

 Tomáš Tichý’s current paintings represent the third stage in his quickly developing work. They may be perceived as a certain synthesis of the experience he has gained in the previous years. This allows him to address more complex issues with a deeper philosophy. The painter is bound by his surroundings – the hidden corners of the city, where we find waste containers among sparse park vegetation and the glass walls of offices and commercial buildings. Inside these buildings, we are confronted with the austere rationality of their impersonal, technical design.

 The symbolic level of the selected portion of reality, actively completed by the artist to form a certain scene, serves as the basis for his paintings. In an active expression, he reconstructs a given reality within the intent of a revealing statement about our society and the time we live in. However, the more intense the experience of reality, the stronger the artist’s desire to create the unique atmosphere of an intimate secret communicated through the painting. To achieve this, the painter uses unexpected and unrealistic 3-D shapes, placing these elements of abstract form into a credible environment. Through labyrinth-like deceptive visual interventions in the paintings, the factual depictions of reality change into a vivid metaphor of the confusing nature of our surroundings. The world we see in the paintings is one we are closely familiar with, and yet, together with the painter, our relationship to it becomes slightly more complicated and contradictory. The cold rationality of industrial forms and technologies offers something we can rely on, but at the same time, it raises doubts and a fear of crisis, chaos, and creates a feeling of creeping anxiety.

 Tomáš Tichý’s latest paintings may remind us of the positive role art played in coping with the industrial reality in the period of the “New Objectivity” of the 1920s and 30s, but at the same time, it works with the contrary effect of surrealist fantasy, introducing the clairvoyant potential of the subconscious. Tomáš Tichý’s works are an innovative synthesis of both of the above trends. The dynamic polyphony of the internal philosophical construction of the paintings seems to be a precise parallel of the conflict in the ways we perceive the reality around us – this is, generally speaking, the fundamental message in Tichý’s work.     

 The artist’s expression is capable of taking on various different forms: from the touching poetics of sympathy we come across in the painter’s early reminiscences of late 19th-century lyricism, through factual observations and distant constructivism in form, all the way to a dramatic expression of thought-provoking action.

 Each of Tomáš Tichý’s paintings is an event: a new revelation of reality on a deliberately aesthetically refined projecting screen of a fact-based symbolic expression.  


Jan Kříž