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27/06 - 31/07/2021
Mendes Wood DM São Paulo

For Czech artist, Vojtěch Kovařík, iconography and mythology are fundamental to his work. His large-format, forceful and vividly colored compositions result in impactful paintings that evoke the strength of sculpture. His herculean figures are contorted, seemingly defeated by the frame of the canvas, flaunting their blue, green, and yellow flesh amongst vegetal backgrounds. Kovařík was first trained in ceramics and sculpture and started painting later as an autodidact. This self-taught formation led him to mix oil, acrylic, and spray paint suggesting relief in a plane surface.

Figures from Greek mythology as well as pop culture references appear in Kovařík’s paintings, fully embracing figuration. His interest in Greek mythology comes from its importance in the European cultural collective unconscious but subverts its meaning by reconstructing its most prominent characters. The Hesperides (Nymphs of the Night) become rotund men, Artemis far from her frail archer archetype morphs into an imposing death figure. Conversely, many stereotypically hyper-masculine characters display postures evoking fragility and introspection. Their faces are often blurred (Hakuho, David, Knock-out) or presented as masks (Hermes, Iron Mike, Gladiator), showing their difficulty to claim a firm identity. Goliath is depicted in pink while Prometheus strikes a sensual pose.

Kovařík’s tone sways ambiguously between violence and silliness. His giant, flagrantly flaunting their masculinity become caricatures, ridiculous objects of curiosity. His purposeful exaggeration of human anatomy creates a sense of honesty and naïveté, questioning the traditional notion of physical strength and power.

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