Tribune

January 11 to February 10, 2007

Text by Mark Clintberg

Jakub Dolejs’ images rely on ambiguity. Simulations of a sort, Dolejs’ photos contort baroque imagery using simple techniques of mise en scene: mirroring, reflection and cropping yield a visual space that skates an edge between artificial hyperbole and stark reality. More than just a drive for simple aesthetic lyricism, the artist’s aim is to provide a disjuncture in our experience of a flat photographic plane.

Visual literacy is a salient issue for Dolejs, who suggests that most citizens today have the interpretive savvy to decode on some level the dense field of images we encounter in print media, billboards, the internet and so on. He claims, “We can read photographs, we can distinguish a holiday snapshot from an advertising pitch, we can easily decipher most Photoshop tricks – we are in control of images.” The subjective power of this ‘we,’ however, is pointedly destabilized when confronted with Dolejs’ suite of images. The viewer is left in a position of uncertainty: what are the conditions under which this photograph was produced? Is it staged? Belief, even the capacity for certainty, the artist says, is suspended.

Dolejs’ images arrest because of their reassessment of ‘real’ space. Rather than giving patent illusionism, he leaves small methodological clues for viewers to uncover upon close examination of the work. Seams reveal themselves, and irregularities in recessed space subtly challenge what we perceive to be the situation at hand. “Suddenly the existence of a real space beyond the trompe l’oeil fiction of the photographed painting becomes critical. It’s this space between the narrative of the painting and its anonymous surroundings where my images acquire their meaning,” he explains. Locations become difficult to pin down, spatial situations are fragmented.

What rests beyond the borders of the image entices speculation, developing tension in the viewer, who must “deliberately accept the fiction, knowing that it would disappear if the photograph was cropped just few inches larger.”

These images call into question the mapping of dimensionality. This capricious play leaves the viewer in the grip of an aesthetically polyvalent situation. Dolejs’ situations cleverly manage to cast aspersions on the spatial, proving our provisional understanding of visuality in the everyday.