LOLA, 6. 11. 2014 – 18. 1. 2015 | Lenka Dolanová


Martin Kuriš (1973), a graduate of Prague Academy of Fine Arts, is the author of narrative series of paintings and children’s books, a teacher, and is also involved with the puppet theatre. His extensive sets of pictures feature characters based on prototypes of his surroundings, which appear in his stories on the boundary between reality and fiction. Some stories are fairy tales, while others use elements of the fable and their mood and style tend to be mournfully balladic. His works include Profesor Frankenstein (Professor Frankenstein), Petr a Lucie (Peter and Lucy), Navarana, Don Giovanni, Smutný rybář (The Sad Fisherman), Magda and Baryk.

Lola is a socially-minded ballad about a girl who, one day, leaves her family home where she lives with her mother and little brother and sets off on a journey to the big city. After a series of adventures, fundamentally transform her, she returns home. Lola is apparently partially based on true events, as are the main characters, who are visually inspired by the author’s family, while the landscapes of the story clearly reflect the melancholic scenery of the Bohemian Central Highlands where Martin Kuriš lives and works

The naive and realistic style of the paintings is reminiscent of amateur rural painters depicting local legends and nooks, as well as mediaeval cycles depicting the lives of the saints. Their colourfulness is key to this style, one immediate example of which is the main character of Lola, dressed in yellow. Light is also important, entering the picture from behind and evenly flooding the entire scene. However, Lola also has something in common with comic books, despite the large formats of the paintings (the largest of which is 280 x 200 cm). These form the individual stages of the story, broken up into four chapters, of which the text accompaniment is an integral part. The pictures were not created chronologically, but gradually, during the course of three years, they filled in the spaces between several key events depicted in the large-format paintings. These are complemented by smaller paintings and pen-and-ink drawings, and the Lola cycle is also accompanied by a series of puppets. The story is written in simple, even terse sentences, which present a peculiar contrast with the drama of the events described – almost in the style of a chronicler’s record. The author is surprised by nothing and shares this stoic attitude with his heroine Lola, who accepts all her vicissitudes with humble calm (only the viewer/reader is amazed). The paintings are certainly not mere illustrations of the text, and key images in particular work in their own right, as these are scenes with a timeless and general significance (the flood, a wedding, school…), each of which could itself be the start of another complex story…

Lola is on show in Jihlava for the first time. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by the Faculty of Art and Design of Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, where Martin Kuriš lectures.

Lenka Dolanová