„I know that in many respects I am not like others, but I don‘t know what I am truly like. (…) I am a human being. But what is it to be that? (…) We are psychic process that we do not control, or only partly direct. Consequently we cannot have any final judgment about ourselves or our lives. If we had we would know everything – but at most that is only a pretence,“1 wrote Carl G. Jung. To know ourselves in all our complexity is impossible. For many people it is frustrating that our own selves cannot be grasped, but for others it is exciting, and Jiří Marek is one of them. He is trying to get to know his present by investigating fragments of the past. For this he uses photo-album fragments from the life of his mother before he was born. It is the past of someone else, but still of intrinsic concern to him, because it determines his own.
The series entitled Missunderstand starts with small-format paintings that relate above all to his mother‘s photo album and the history of her life. They thus form a kind of prologue to three large-format paintings: portraits of his father and mother and a self portrait. Though these Jiří Marek explores the paths leading to his present. In the painting he manipulates people and objects, setting them in new, sometimes even absurd situations. Using associations, symbols and personal attributes he thus creates new contexts, undermining the model of the world that he was offered by his ancestors. Jiří Marek looks at himself through the range-finder of psychoanalysis, and so in their final effect the portraits of his father and mother are likenesses of himself. The process of self-understanding though painting is directed to a cleansing catharsis but also a latent revenge at the same time. What looks from a distance like an apple, an Arcimboldo-esque trick, forming the father‘s face, on closer examination seems like a nail injuring the face. Everything depends
on how near or far away you are standing. Thus in his paintings the artist poses the question of the importance of productive misunderstanding – of others and oneself.
Lucia Kvočáková, 2017
1 Jaffé, Aniela. Vzpomínky / sny / myšlenky C. G. Junga. Praha: Portál 2015