Jan Kaláb’s undulating abstract forms are meticulous yet fluid and delve into both his personal histories and a preoccupation with the infinite.
The unusual shapes of Kaláb’s brightly-hued minimalist painting and sculpture are distinctly his own. Their flowing curves and meditative concentric rings create abstract caverns that pulse and shift on the canvas. The works evoke both nature and science by combining a process of design with loose, intuitive hand-made gestures reminiscent of water droplets from a pipet or a cell under the microscope.
- Solo show, Jan Kaláb : SHAPE & TONE, at the Fabien Castanier Gallery, Miami, 2019
- Group show, Praha-Berlin Barter, at Urban Spree Galerie, Berlin, 2019
- Solo show, Jan Kaláb Perspective of Clouds, Mirus Gallery, San Francisco, 2018
- Solo show , ZOOOM | Jan Kaláb, at MAGMA gallery, Bologna, 2017
- Solo show, Tension by Jan Kaláb, at the BC Gallery, Berlin, 2015
Kaláb’s sculptures echo his works on canvas through a continued exploration of depth and motion, with clustered globular forms stacked on top of each other, hanging from the ceiling or scattered on the floor. Working with acrylic on canvas, plywood and fibreglass, all of Kaláb’s works have a lustrous gloss finish that is both emotionally charged and fastidiously created.
Kaláb’s relationship to public art is central to his practice and is shaped by the political context of his life. Born in Czechoslovakia in 1978, Kaláb grew up in one of the Soviet Union’s satellite states where the government prohibited abstract and unsolicited public art. During Czechoslovakia’s transition to capitalism in the 1990s, inquisitive Western artists introduced graffiti to the streets of Prague. Inspired by that movement, Kaláb began his career and founded the pioneering graffiti group, DSK. While Kaláb’s work has grown into a multifaceted practice over the decades, the influence of public resistance still permeates. In his 2018 solo show, Soul of Graffiti, at the Polasek Museum in Florida, the monumental abstract outdoor sculptures recall the scale and grandeur of Socialist Realism while entirely rejecting their content through his use of odd abstract shapes. Closer to objects from outer space than earthly depictions, and in the bright red signature colour of Communism, Kaláb interrupts public space and emulates history through his work.
There is a subtle symbolism that is interwoven into Kaláb’s practice. The circle has a particular significance as it represents both “existence and the void.” Totally full and totally empty, the never ending line of a circle, a loop, or a droplet are all compositions that dominate Kaláb’s oeuvre, evoking Buddhist notions of rebirth and the cyclical patterns of nature. In 2018 at San Francisco’s Mirus Gallery Kaláb’s solo exhibition, Perspective of Clouds, consisted of numbered paintings, each assigned a certain time of day in an imagined sky. In the paintings, warm oranges, faded blues, dusty yellows and lucid pinks accumulate into deconstructed skyscapes reminiscent of the infinite litany of day and night, seasons and geography. Emerging from his formative years in a soviet state turned democratic republic, Kaláb upholds abstract art as a form of resistance and embraces artistic freedom through his meditations on colour and form.
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