When I visit Jan Merta’s studio, I usually goes like this: I knock on the door. Jan (who turns sixty this year) opens it for me, smiles, and I have the distinct feeling that although he’s alone in the studio, I’ve interrupted him in the midst of telling some amusing story. I look around the studio, at the step-ladder on which stands a work in progress. ‘Won’t you at least have a cup of tea?’, Jan, or Honza, asks.

On my last two visits he also offered me some chocolate. Supposedly his wife Lenka buys it for him so that he can survive. I break the excellent dark-brown bar into pieces, and am almost certain that I’m on a military exercise. Honza shows me a table with soldiers’ epaulettes showing the different ranks in the Czech Army and he tells me how during the recent cold snap he ran a fever of 42 degrees Celsius in his studio. That is the last mark of calibration on a doctor’s mercury thermometer. As a child I sometimes wondered what happens above that.

We discuss the exhibition in the Špála Gallery. I know, at least a bit, how Honza paints. The paintings with their strokes and colours emerge from, and submerge into, the canvas, just as the reason for each of them is independent of the events, stories, flashes, glimmers, nooks and crannies, and memories of Honza’s life. It’s clear to me that he’ll never have the paintings ready. He tells me, moreover, that he’s fourteen years late. It occurs to me that the exhibition could also have the subtitle: Martial Law.

Martin Dostál

Gallery (3)



Your comment:

CV — Jan Merta

Born in Šumperk, northwest Moravia, on 4 December 1952.
Married with two sons, lives and works in Prague and České Lhotice, east Bohemia.

1968–72 Secondary school for the visual arts, Prague
1981–87 Academy of Fine Arts, Prague
1972–81 various jobs outside the field of art
1991–2002  represented by Galerie MXM, Prague
Since 2003  represented by Galerie Johnen + Schöttle,
                    Cologne, later Galerie Johnen, Berlin
Since 2004  represented by Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, 
                    Munich, and Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna
2005, 2009  voted Eminent Figure of the Year
                    (in a poll organized by GAVU Cheb, Art+Antiques, 
                    and artalk.cz) for important work in the fine arts
10/10–02/11guest instructor, Šaloun Studio, Academy of Fine Arts
                    (AVU), Prague

Solo exhibitions (a selection since 2001)
2011  ‘Mým Jihomoravanům’ (To the People of South Moravia),
          Galerie města Blanska, Blansko
          ‘Liberec III’, Topičův salon, Prague
          ‘Der Frühling ist gekommen’ (Spring Is Here),
          Johnen Galerie, Berlin
2010  ‘Na prahu kariéry’ (On the Threshold of a Career),
          Galerie 207, Prague
          ‘LAOZI’, Galerie Zdeněk Sklenář, Prague
          ‘Jan Merta’, Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna
          ‘Geist und Materie’ (Mind and Matter),
          Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich
          ‘Stockhausenova symfonie’ (A Stockhausen Symphony),
          Galerie Zdeněk Sklenář, Prague
          ‘Na papíře 1982–2010’ (On paper, 1982–2010), 
          Galerie ARS, Brno
2009  Exhibition, Wannieck Gallery, Brno
2008  ‘11 Moralities’, Galerie Johnen + Schöttle, Cologne
          ‘Jan Merta’, Galerie ad astra, Kuřim
2007  ‘11 moralities’, Galerie na bidýlku, Brno
          ‘Jan Merta, Jiří Kovanda’, Johnen Galerie, Berlin
2006  ‘Liberec’, Malá výstavní síň, Liberec
          ‘Jan Merta’, Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich
          ‘Jan Merta’, the Josef Pleskot halls, Smetana’s Litomyšl
2005  ‘Jan Merta’, Východočeská galerie, Pardubice
          ‘Obrazy 1985–2005 a práce na papíře’
          (Paintings, 1985–2005, and works on paper),
          Moravská galerie – Pražákův palác, Brno
2004  ‘Jan Merta’, Galerie kai de kai, Prague
2003  ‘Jan Merta’, Galerie Ars, Brno
2002  ‘2000+2 / *1952’, AP Atelier, Prague
2001  ‘Jan Merta’, Výstavní síň Sokolská 26, Ostrava
          ‘Obrazy’ (Paintings), Dům umění, České Budějovice

CONTACTGalerie Václava Špály
Národní 30
Prague 1, 110 00
Czech Republic

Open daily
11 AM - 7 PM

Admission 40 CZK
For students, seniors and disabled holders 50% discount

We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our website.          Ok, don’t show again.