The Theatre of the World of Jiří Brázda
Sharp, at the same time often and surprisingly changing beat of Jiří Brázda´s graphic art, drawings, and paintings attracts us by its expressive virtuosity. By means of these masterful art skills we are drawn into the difficult, unstable and discomposing units of the Brazda´s works. These works provoke us to our returns, to the attempts to understand the meaning of art as well as psychological antitheses (the figure and the background for example). Often we might even say that the iconography is in a provocatively escaping contradiction to the psychology. And Jiří Brázda usually does not make the situation any easier by the names, with which he sends his works into the world.
Yet the ambiguous surface of gestures, masks and poses of the Brázda´s figures, the elegant ciphers, which as a paradox do not aim at attractiveness or even less at sweetness, create an inner picture for the spectator, the picture that can be described as late Renaissance or manneristic disegno interno. Its indication of the meaning penetrates the exciting effectiveness of the visible outer picture. The result causes stronger restless feelings growing in us.
By his work Jiří Brázda can be placed among the artists, who can be described as existential figuralists. For him and his art, as well as for his colleagues (such as J. Anderle, K. Demel, O. Kulhánek and J. Krejčí), can be current the Pascal´s: "Whatever position you take, I will not give you peace in it.” Theatrum mundi of Jiří Brázda is attractively non-idealistic.
Searching for circumstances
Everyone, who has chosen the demanding life career of the “art creation”, has to realize that there is no escape from this path. It is difficult, complicated, it brings pleasure, happiness, as well as sorrow and pain. It is uneasy. Disappointment exchanges the joy of success, doubts are replaced by the certainty of cognition, searching is crowned by revealing of the right direction…
Jiří Brázda set on the difficult journey at the age of twenty seven after finishing the proper studies, which enable him to use the title “academic painter and graphic designer”. The title is a good thing, but it loses its sense without talent and diligence. Brázda is talented, ambitious enough, inquisitive in a good sense, willing for success (why not), he has been searching for his own path, own style, own signature. It all does his credit. The spectator, the theorist and the critic can appraise his work during various exhibitions in the Czech Republic as well as abroad, where he has been presenting his twenty years lasting endeavour.
The good guidance to any critical evaluation of a piece of art is the knowledge of drawing, its quality, sensitiveness and openness. Drawing is the basis for art, it reveals what the abstract artists often try to hide. Drawing shows the ignorance of anatomy, the ”wall-eye” of bad-quality observing of surroundings, people and scenery. It enables us to understand the level of every artist’s development! When we carefully look at Jiří Brázda´s drawings, we notice several remarkable facts: the drawing is brilliantly exact, the line entirely firm, his hatching or the monotonous repetition of single strokes realistically corresponds to the shading – the play of light and darkness. Darkness belongs to the carrying elements of Brázda´s works, it brings mood into the drawing, raises the feeling of mystery, underlines the contour of the figurative beings, which are brought to the surface of a white paper by the author.
The white surface disappeared under the touches of the sensitive hand, the single lines and colour values changed it completely. The mysterious process of creation changed an ordinary paper; metamorphosis is finished, the individual figures
talk to us, the enciphered thoughts make us think about the hidden, indicated as well as evident story. We search for circumstances and put questions to ourselves: Why? Why are the figures deformed? Why does Brázda prolong human limbs
and changes them into strange, sharp, ugly paws? Why does he concentrate on women? Why is his world closed in a special cell? Why do the actresses have that supernatural smile? Why does the author avoid obscene scenes in the time of open and brutal sexuality? Why do the women have the evil eyes? Why....? The spectator can invent as many whys as many his fantasy allows. But what are the questions without answers for? The unsolvable rebuses, puzzles? To some questions we will never get the answers, since they are the most intimate parts of every human sole. Some questions we will try to answer and perhaps (certainly not for hundred per cent) we may come closer to the cognition, in which the rich world of Jiří Brázda is hidden.
Let us start with simplest question: Why is the author occupied by women so much? Brázda ´s women are symbolic, they represent contemporary complicated every-day life, the sole of a man. They depict the author’s strain or inner tensions in
various life situations, they express momentary moods, artist’s feelings, Therefore the sarcastic grimace sometimes, other times the mysterious smile or inner happiness, dreaming or hatred. That is the woman – the symbol. And why the deformation?
There is suddenly so much beauty around us that it is becoming boring. Even ordinary magazines serve us an ideal woman’s body in all the appearances; nothing but beauty, cheap smiles, truckling flattery. And the reality? Look at the fat hamburger American beauties. And you need not to go so far. Are not our bodies deformed? Bellied beer-drinkers, obese businessmen, women whose beauty is at least doubtful. If we add our deformed soles full of rising hypocrisy, egoism, ruthlessness, conceit, hatred and rancour to it, then the Brázda´s deformations, compared with these anomalies, are just a mere artist’s play that is increasing the inner tension and dynamics of the drawings and paintings.
In case we find an erotic undertone in some of the works (e.g. Touch, Music Lesson, Exercises, Three Little Balls, Undecent Proposal), then the author does not forget the rule that the intimate should be only indicated, so that the spectator could develop his own fantasy. He never goes so far that he would offend or shock anyone.
We have mentioned that Brázda´s drawings and paintings were special units, some sort of mysterious cells enclosing some little pieces of the author’s life, his gathered thoughts, ideas, memories and secret (perhaps never uttered) wishes. These closed units come into existence this way, living their own independent life, no matter if they are placed on exhibitions or in private collections. They always impress us by their inner tension and exceptional vitality, by which they differ from the works of other authors. Hardly anyone can draw the spectator into this play as skillfully as Brázda does. This feature is characteristic for his drawings, which we have ,entioned, as well as for his paintings, which are closely connected with them, or the graphic sheets, which were until recently Brázda´s domain. The border between painting and drawing disappears: drawing often becomes painting, painting has the same beginning of work. Perhaps only the used sorts of material (paper, canvas, colours etc.) decide about the final classification.
Graphic works had a crucial meaning for Jiøí Brázda. The fact that he started his studies in the graphic studio of prof. Zdeněk Sklenář and his assistant Jiří Anderle, decided about his nearly sacred approach towards the surface of the graphic sheet. His responsibility does not allow him to gloss over work. Every sheet, small or large, becomes space for him, the space, in which he starts playing with the intended plot. The gradual process of creation is conforming to drawing, but the attention has to be bigger in case of a graphic sheet. The smallest mistake can cause that the ready work may be of no use. Jiří Brázda is careful, persevering and mulish. His hand gives live to the graphic sheets which are admired by wide laic and professional public. His knowledge of graphic techniques (etching, engraving and mezzotint) shows his many-sided talent, which was appreciated on many significant competitions abroad.
Jiří Brázda created his special world (the leading personalities of the art world always did and I hope that the critics will forgive me, if I say that already today Brázda is a remarkable personality in the Czech world of arts). His special world is
almost predominately occupied by women (the exceptions are usually bookplates, illustrations, drawings for exhibitions ordered by a client), men feature rather allegoric beings (Touch of Muse – J.K.Tyl), or intruding figures, which do not belong to this world. Time will show whether the author’s intention is final or if it goes through certain changes. I assume some changes, but am not able to fortell the direction of Brázda´s themes. The present is the way it is and corresponds with Jiří Brázda´s character. He is a person with a good sense of sensitive humour, is thoughtful about the world, in which he has been living, he is vital, loving life and everything that belongs to it. Let us admire his work and have joy together with him!