Jonáš Czesaný is part of the generation of painters that emerged on the Czech art scene at the turn of the last century. His earliest works, dating from his time at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (Akademie výtvarného umění - AVU) where he studied under professors F. Hodonský and V. Kokolia, tackle the theme of landscape, focusing specifically on the internal landscape of experiences and the process of undergoing experience. In his first more self-contained series of paintings, where he applies his deepening interest in figures and objects, the artist creates a strangely bizarre world in which the key role is initially played by a feel for the grotesque, the absurd and black humour, later succeeded by a greater degree of melancholy and scepticism. From the outset, element of lightness and self-irony are also present – as present in early works painted or sprayed onto non-durable plastic foam. Jonáš Czesaný exhibited a selection of his paintings at a two-man show with Jakub Špaňhel at the National Gallery’s Veltržní Palace in 2005. A catalogue was published by the National Gallery to accompany the show.
For his large-scale paintings, Czesaný looks to locations near his home in Prague. Mostly portraying the modern developments and buildings in Prague’s Holešovice quarter, he explores their specifics forms and scales (e.g. the work Veletržák, 2006). Focusing on environments that he knows intimately allows him to penetrate the objective facades and stage-like scenery of local architecture in order to discover reflections of his own sensitivity and melancholy (ZŠ, 2006). Using the medium of painting, he enters the “ghetto of life” as given by the circumstances and his long-term existential symbiosis with it (Věžák, 2006). The territory covered has been “experienced”, Czesaný has spent much precious time in the area. In its detail, Czesaný’s contemplation of Hološovice also echoes in the cycle Holubů (2006). Czesaný imparts the different subspecies of pigeon with irony by giving them his own names (Pleb, Aristocrat, 2006), expressing his own individual sympathies or aversions.
Within a fairly short time, Jonáš Czesaný has created his own specific pictorial poetry, which develops in several series and cycles of paintings. Apparently banal scenes conceal crafty meanings and urgent generational messages. Despite bringing momentary satisfaction and joy, Czesaný’s civil world lacking undue illusions, where time is perceptibly running out, is not one that can be inhabited for long.
Petr Vaňous, independent curator, editor/writer at A2 magazine