about David Bartoň
Ivan M. Jirous
Introduction to the vernissage at Malovaný Dům in Třebíč, 14.3.2000, as printed in Atelier magazine.
Please do not expect a long talk about David Bartoň’s pictures here. This is approximately his fourth exhibition I have opened and if I had thought anything about his pictures worth sharing, those thoughts underwent a gradual process of reduction – in the same way David creates his landscapes. This process is however only seemingly alike. David discovers the essential and the inner by liberation and simplification of the original shapes. When I liberate myself I find myself unable to communicate anymore. David’s pictures increasingly seem to me a perfect matter for meditation. Meditation is a very private state of mind and soul and therefore you cannot confirm or disagree with my opinion here at the vernissage. And then there is also the confusing plurality of Bartoň’s work… and you have only seen part of it here. The plurality does not mean devaluation and mechanic repetition. A precise observer that David doubtlessly is chooses from the endlessly flowing river of landscapes such places of contemplation which are destined for the soul meditation. We won’t find a man or staffage, as we say in technical terms, in David’s paintings. It is good because the man is an intrusive, destructive element even. David managed to oust him into his other part of his work – the portraits. The polarity of Bartoň’s work however might be only an illusion. When looking at both, his landscapes and figures, we are dealing with an insightful observer who sees not only the outside world. There is perhaps tenderness in his landscapes, which is confirmed by the reserved pastel valeur of colours. Maybe there is some sarcasm in the lettristic landscapes of accompanying slogans which frame the central figure. But even this sarcasm isn’t without sympathy, at least the amused sarcasm over our human condition. Exhibitions and vernissages are without a doubt part of this condition. I admire your bravery with which you came here today. What if you become an object of one of his next paintings? I don’t have to worry. It’s happened to me already.
Ivan M. Jirous – Autumn in the village landscape
Introduction to the vernissage in České Budějovice 14.9. 2004, as printed in Atelier magazine
The fact that I love the autumn best of all the seasons is perhaps because I was born on the first day of autumn. That’s why I’m happy that the exhibition of David Bartoň’s paintings is opening here in the yard of Galerie Na Dvorku (In the Yard) on this beautiful autumn day, in open air. When I was preparing this speech and looking at David’s twelve pictures which I divided by three into Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, I realized that the autumn is the most significant season: everything prepared by the spring and the summer is laid to sleep and to decompose in temporary/permanent sleep under the winter’s snow. When David and I were arranging this exhibition some time ago, I said to myself that I could really do with reading “A Year in the Country” by Alois and Vilem Mrštík again. It is one of the most tragically forgotten and unappreciated books of Czech – Moravian literature; Jiří Kolář, among others, was its appreciator. Today, however, I realise that the contemporary Czech village has the undeniable polarity of beautiful fields and hills the essence of which, bare to the bone, David paints in his pictures. It is a polarity of evil and hate, which bubbles out of the gobs of regulars in the low grade village pubs where they don’t speak of seeding and harvest but of envy, undeserved disappointments, scheming and badmouthing. It is the talk of people who don’t want to work on their predecessors’ land and forests but who speculate how to get rid of it all for the most profit. David also paints portraits of these people – they would have to be here like an antipode of indestructible, cultural landscape cultivated by centuries. I am glad that they are not here today. Maybe you will see them another time, at another of David’s exhibitions. Cultivation of the landscape in our country has taken around two thousand years. We must hope that the temporary bloodshed of the most of the population – the children of those who formed this landscape, will also pass. And if not, it will be our job; it will be your job, our children’s job and their children’s too.
Printed in David Barton’s catalog. Published by graphic studio eF in České Budějovice, March 2007.
My friendship with David Barton started in 2002, when – Oldřich Smutný, David and I – installed paintings by Václav Rožánek in the Painted House in Třebíč. The exhibition was prepared by David and prepared with careful care, dedication and dedication, even with the demanding transport of paintings from Písek: he has long admired Rožánek’s painting and I believe that Rožánek was even more than Karel Valter, with whom David is associated, for his painting maturing. , probably mainly because he was also born in South Bohemia. I just think that, but I know with certainty that Oldřich Smutný, Rožánek’s aged mentor and supporter, who naturally had the main say in Třebíč, also strengthened his belief in the need and power of painting. David brought and took pictures, and occasionally he quietly pointed out to Oldřich’s and my conversation about them – his respect for the elders didn’t allow him more. They were just short notes, but they were always good and testified to his artistic feelings and his own opinion on Rožánek’s work, which he knew better than I did. But I only learned that he was painting himself later – he did not consider it necessary to talk about it. And so I later knew him only as a man who serves the art of others. The opportunity came to this mainly in Telč, when he was entrusted with the newly opened city gallery in the Fire House. She leads it successfully. The exhibition program is carefully designed with a broad knowledge of our art and an effort to show the audience, whose most of them are foreigners, the most valuable and remarkable thing to ever get (sometimes very difficult). He has to rely mainly on himself for doing his imaginations and doing almost everything himself, all the way to craftsmanship. Sometimes she invites me to cooperate, so I couldn’t miss it, even though in 2005 he prepared an exhibition of blue and white paintings by Oldřich Smutný. This was less timid and contributed substantially to the fact that Oldřich’s Blue and White together withstood the rich reddish brown, which the walls of the exhibition hall were painted incomprehensibly and to David’s constant affliction and finally won. The show was successful and our well-being, which was not disturbed even by a spirited citizen who wanted to come back to the inn with drunkenness, certainly deserved it. And then I met David from another side. He led the intruders out of the room quietly, but vigorously, in a way that revealed a great deal of experience when he had to take care of a pub in nearby Červený Hrádek, where he lived: incredible! I reminded the dramatic-comic scene again when he last year invited me to a former Telč synagogue and later a police station where he was allowed to arrange a studio. I already knew that this graduate of the University of Agriculture in Brno did not deal with agriculture for a long time and paints it, if only other works allow him to do it, and what he also exhibits (not in his “gallery”, because he would find it rude) , but I didn’t know the pictures themselves. Now I finally saw them hanging on the walls so close to each other that they were almost obscuring them: David has a lot to say about it, I thought. I was immediately impressed. There was so much painter’s taste in them, so much joy from the bright colors applied to the substrate quickly and vigorously in dense pastes, it could be said roughly! However, they revealed that the guide to this vigor is prudence, and that there is a delicate flesh under the rigid skin – a truly poetic, basically lyrical emotion. And then it occurred to me that the skin was so stiff to protect her from the touches of insensitive people, whose rude David recognized as a pub far too close. Perhaps their noisiness and clatter contributed to the fact that he liked the silence. He does not speak much, and his paintings are also talkative. Large clean areas scattered by distinctive lines, dots, and spots (David likes them like his compatriot Eva Prokopcová, with whom he exhibited last year in Třebíč), shapes simplified sometimes to sign – this is the expression of his poetic minimalism, which he ranked among contemporary landscape painters. Although he sometimes portrays man, he is mainly a landscape painter. The people of his paintings like to love each other and more to represent “people”. David does not reject their society, it is tolerant, but with nature it wants to be alone and the landscapes it paints are empty. But there, too, he does not avoid the mass and he sometimes likes to stop by the alley by the road or by the regularly arranged trees in the orchard. In addition to their amount, the open areas are even more relaxed, and if there is a hint of movement, it does not disturb the all-embracing silence. Czech landscapers usually make a sense of silence white, blue and black, but David, and that is extraordinary, has a silence of yellow, orange, even red, indicating that there is life-giving tension beneath the silent soil. Yes, David has an unmistakable place among South Bohemian painters, but his need for silence is related mainly to the artist he didn’t personally recognize – with John John; after all, from Třešť, where John was born, it is closer to Telč and Červený Hrádek than to David’s native Tábor. And he has a fondness for him, too, for shrubbery draws, in graphic-shaped furrows, and in the long hillsides of the hills that lift the horizon so high that there is little space left for the image, and sometimes push it out. For, as Gaston Bachelard would say – the earth is the very element of the two. It seems to me that David’s study at an agricultural school did indeed have a deeper motivation.
©2023 David Bartoň
©2023 David Bartoň