Jiri Svestka

David Böhm

19 Jun - 27 Sep 2013

Exhibition view
100 Weeks
19 June - 27 September 2013

David Böhm is best known for his artistic collaborations with Jiří Franta. His work explores the full scope of contemporary drawing, from newspaper and magazine illustrations to conceptual investigations of the medium’s possibilities. The integration of process-driven and performative elements comprises an important component of his artistic practice. He often expands his two-dimensional drawings by employing a third, temporal dimension. The subject – as well as the raison d’être - of his drawings tends to be drawing itself. What at first glance appears to be a spontaneous approach in fact turns out to be a process controlled by precise, pre-defined parameters. This tension between the freedom offered by the endless ways of covering an empty surface and an anxious adherence to often highly absurd limitations opens up new, or at least less explored, territories the craft of drawing. Traditionally, conceptual approaches have been linked to abstract, non-figurative forms; for the most part, David Böhm’s drawings are consistently figurative, developing stylizations from the world of caricature and comic books. His specifically balanced humour is not only etched into his drawings, but also into the thought process behind the construction of their conceptual framework. That not only invests them with an essential internal consistency, but also with a desirable detachment.
His latest project entitled 100 Weeks develops the mechanisms described above. Böhm set himself the task of making one drawing every day over the time period in the exhibition title, each composed of two components: a human head and text. He did not predefine the kind of head or the nature of the text, also leaving open their mutual interrelations. The drawings are also linked by a common format, predetermined by the sketchbook, and later sketchbooks, which he used. Motivations for such an approach may be sought in two directions. On the one hand there’s an attempt at anchoring “the free profession” of the artist, which in principle lacks regularity, by setting oneself a compulsory, predefined and minimal daily work quota. On the other, there’s curiosity as to whether repetition and the accumulation of outputs of banal activity can lead to a new, independent quality in the resultant whole. On another level - one that is a priori unplanned, yet predictable from the logic of the artist’s initial resolution - the individual drawings assembled for the exhibition give rise to a distinctive artist’s diary. Direct references to socio-political events at least momentarily allow a temporal orientation in the flow of chronologically ordered drawings. They are also permeated with allusions to the artist’s momentary personal situation and state of mind. This level of intimacy does not outweigh the initial concept, however. The only thing that David Böhm failed to maintain was the project’s temporal framework. He was unable to wrap up his activity after a hundred weeks, instead deciding to continue with the project. This has led to a shift in the current exhibition’s conceptual orientation towards a presentation of the first fragment of a whole whose final form remains open.

text: Ondřej Chrobák
translated by Marek Tomin
Financially supported by Ministry of Culture CR

David Böhm
born 1982, lives in Prague