Jan Valik, currently based in London, graduated from Academy of Fine Arts in Prague in 2012. He received the third place in the VUB Foundation Painting Prize ’16 (Slovakia, 2016) and recently he was shortlisted for Contemporary British Painting Prize 2021.
Valik has participated in numerous Artist-in-Residence Programs notably at BankART (Yokohama, Japan, 2016), Mark Rothko Art Center (Daugavpils, Latvia, 2017), Banska Stanica Contemporary (Banska Stiavnica, Slovakia, 2018), Egon Schiele Art Centre (Cesky Krumlov, Czechia, 2018) and Shanjian Contemporary Art Space (Beijing, China, 2019). In 2020 he joined a 2-year long Turps Studio Programme in London.
His work has been shown in solo exhibitions in Belgium, Austria, Slovakia, Czechia and Japan, as well as in group exhibitions in the UK and across Europe (Belgium, Germany, Austria, Czechia, Slovakia, Latvia, France and Ireland) as well as in China and Japan.
Essay by Prof. Miloš Šejn, PhD.
If we suddenly close our eyes in an illuminated, foggy or even night landscape, it can happen, if we are sufficiently attentive and relaxed at the same time, that floating images appear in our inner sight, perhaps not so distant from the visions of Jan Valik, whose paintings, quests and wishes are to be discussed here.
Jan Valik has already had a long creative journey, which could be named as a path of transparency. The world penetrates the artist’s soul, sifted through the screens of his senses and returns, captured by the retinas of his paintings, drawings and textual records. Gestures, the tools used, and the body of the creator are condensed into something that we have decided and what the author has chosen to designate as an image.
It is no coincidence that for Valik the contact with what is commonly referred to as the thinking of the East has become very important. His gestures are often expressive, calligraphic and we could say nestled at the roots of words. However, at the same time, before Valik’s paintings we can almost tangibly perceive the seriousness of the painting tradition of European cultures of ancient ages. We have before us very original traces of the authentic struggle of a man with the truth about vision as possibly as it might be seen today.
When Claude Monet was working on his water lilies, he was rather one with them, and he might have only guessed his work’s message. On the contrary, when Kazuo Shiraga ‘calligraphed’ his bodily records, more and more he becomes the message itself – a gesture that may already be missing the image of the world. Jan Valik, I think, successfully, connects both these extremes in new, in his own words “fragile”, pictorial connections. Literally, because he works in tradition- proven painting techniques. We can see brush strokes, glazes, wet and dry touch layers. And here we also see the body traces of the gestures, as if seen from the inside and the outside at the same time.
Landscapes flow through the artist, their riverbeds soften and the tools, colours and eye flow into paintings and drawings. These usually take the form of a window, sometimes the edges melt away, sometimes they overlap.
Jan Valik has found his unmistakable, clear and at the same time mysterious form of speech, and we can only look forward to its other and enriching words speaking about this world in the course of time.