VI. Birgus

By the time Jaroslav Malík graduated from the Institute of Creative Photography at the Silesian University in Opava in the autumn 1998 he had had several one-man exhibitions in prestigious museum such as the Silesian Provincial Museum in Opava, the Opera Gallery and the Fiducia Gallery in Ostrava, the G4 Gallery in Cheb and the renowned Mánes Gallery in Prague. Malík had also dispayed his works at numerous group exibitions. As a teacher at School of Art in Zlaté Hory, he won over tens of his pupils to photography. It is no wonder that Malík´s presence was deeply imprinted on the minds of his colleagues at the Institute. Recently, Malík started teaching the youngest generation of photographers at the Department of Photography of the Secondery School of Art in Ostrava – the very same department that has won such renown.
Although Malík specializes in artistic photography, he has demonstrated great talent in other genres such as his extraordinary promotional photographs of the Ford Ka. Perhabs the best example of his skills is the cycle of subjective documentary photographs entitled „Hey, Man…“ which unearths mysteries and phantasms in the seemingly ordinary world. Here, the autor untilizes his feel for depicting the mysterious aspects of miscellaneous phenomena of everyday life as well as his ingenious mastery of visual metaphors, an impressive counterpoint of different motifs with a kontrast of sharp light and shadow. Thus, Malík composed photographs that depict his visual sensations and express his feelings and moods in illusions and symbols. Moreover, he is concerned with the fundamental question of (wo)man´s identity and social relations
Nevertheless, the most significant and mature performance in Malík´s work to date has been extensive cycle with unusual name „My little prose Rose“. At present, the cycle contains dozens of slightly nostalgic photomontages made up of pictures of objects that have been out of use for a long time languishing in attics. Cellars and rubbish dumps. Malík photographs defunct scales, time-worn lanterns, clocks with broken dials, statues covered in dust, shattered bottles and other unwanted things. It is worth nothing that he used antique cameras which passed thein peak long ago. The innumerable partial photographs are then formed into a final photomontage, which requires enormous patience and skill on the author´s part. In such photomontages, the forsaken objects become integral parts of ether flamboyant pictures reminiscent of the Baroque, or almost contemplatively soothing pictures drifting between the real and surreal, dominated by the motif of the inexorable passing of time. This impression of distance in time is often stressed by a soft toning of enlargements, which suggest a patina of antiquity. The exceptionally sensitive, artistically cultivated and technically precise original still lifes, which are extraneous to ephemeral trends in art, thus draw parallels with human life and its peripetia. As the autor himself claims, „It resembles life. People, events and things come, overlap and disappear, decay and remain.“
The cycle „My litlle prose Rose“ is not still definitive. Malík frequently returns to same of the photomontages after a time to tansform them as his views and feelings change. Naturally, he works on entirely new projects, too. If there have formely appeared rather faded and diffused motifs together with superficial symbols in some of his works, they can no longer be found there today. The cycle therefore reflects the artist´s path to creative matirity. It is not surprising that Malík become firmly established in the context of contemporary Czech photography.
Vladimír Birgus