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In it's own field - Kabinet T, Zlín 
Curator: Jan Zálešák/ link to the gallery website  10. 2 - 14. 4. 2023 


Jakub Tajovský belongs to the youngest representatives of Czech painting. As a classic medium, respected by viewers and still the most sought after by collectors, it has long been the subject of exploratory, critical, even deconstructive interest. As well as declaring the ends of painting, intermedial stretching of the boundaries of this medium has become a separate discipline, and Jakub belongs to those who
the fields of "painting in the extended field" on our stage move in an interesting and inspiring way. Already at the beginning of his doctoral studies at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the BUT, his interest in the technological aspects of painting resulted in the design of his own painting material, which he named GLUP. The qualities of this polymorphic emulsion can be modified in a relatively controlled manner, and GLUP can thus have not only different colors (with which, however, Jakub operates on a deliberately limited scale), but above all viscosity, so that the material can be worked with in a limited position in a sculptural manner. The next step after the development of colored matter was the tuning of the painting tool, the "malbot".

In both cases, it is not just about expanding the technological field of painting possibilities, but at the same time about a polemic, or rather a passionate dialogue with the nature of painting and with the various myths that are encoded in it (and they concern the originality, the uniqueness of the author's gesture, the secrets of masterful technological procedures, etc. .).

Malbot, or rather its most current version, constructed in collaboration with PrusaLab, a prototyping workshop "exploring the boundaries of digital fabrication", is the centerpiece of the exhibition, around which its entire dramaturgy is built. We came to the decision fairly early in our conversations to prioritize exhibiting the process over presenting the resulting artefacts. The consequences resulting from it then shaped both the preparatory phase (deciding on how large canvases the painting robot should process and how to adapt its construction to the format of the canvases, or whether to include directly in the exhibition the technological background needed for the continuous operation of the robot) and directly the implementation On the place. Malbot, as it is now installed in Cabinet T, has a very site-specific character. Not only are they a format
the canvas and, as a result, the dimensions of the machine are conditioned by the spatial layout of the gallery. Jakub also took into account the time aspect - how long the painting machine will work during opening hours and how much paint material can be applied to the canvas during this time. If the word experiment in connection with art sometimes seems like a bit of a cheap label, then in this case we are really witnessing an experiment in which we have to take into account all sorts of eventualities. The artist's work certainly does not end with the opening.

In this exhibition, Jakub not only tests the technological limits of the latest iteration of his painting machine, but also tests its expressive and semantic possibilities. The exhibition is built as a whole including various stages of creation and the possibilities of extended painting. The first room of the gallery is designed as a warehouse, preparation room and temporary depository of artefacts created by Malbot. In addition to the materials from which the GULP painting compound is prepared on site, the warehouse contains various containers, canvas and funnels for the application of the painting. The custodians, who are usually more in the background, supervising and possibly helping the viewers with advice, turn into "production operators" in work suits specially adjusted for the occasion of the exhibition, to use the current jargon of staffing agencies. The second room is a place of production – a bit of a studio, a bit of a factory. The presence of a robot, mechanically moving its "hand" over the canvas, inevitably evokes a factory space where automated production takes place. At the same time, looking at a working malbot using the dripping technique, which strongly evokes abstract expressionism, it is clear that what is created is not a standardized product. In that
finished canvases are also continuously exhibited in the room. Malbot should gradually complete four paintings during the exhibition. Similar to Pollock's dripping paintings, which were created in a horizontal position to then be displayed on the wall, the paintings created by the paintbot are presented vertically. Here we probably come closest to the expectations of the appearance of the painting exhibition, but at the same time it is clear from the presentation of the painting on an aluminum "dryer" that this is not its final destination and that the canvas exhibited in this way is probably not even a definitive closed artifact, an autonomous work of art that will continue to be intended only for a distanced aesthetic reception.


After the painting part of the production cycle is concluded within the framework of the exhibition, the canvas is exposed to the gaze of viewers. But even before that, it is taken with a digital camera and becomes the basis for an interactive video installation in the last room of the gallery. What could seem like an "addition", a playful lightening of what is really essential, which takes place in the largest room of the gallery, is in fact a manifestation of something that is absolutely fundamental to Jakub's work. The robotic application of colored matter is only one aspect of the expansion of painting. Another is its media extension, which at the same time further accentuates the shift from individual authorship to collectivity and sharing.

Here, Jakub uses the interface of the Expo_dist program, which he developed in cooperation with Jakub Valtar back in 2015 as a virtual canvas for digital painting. The extension of painting towards the digital environment in Expo_dist brings interesting visual results, however, from my point of view, what is more interesting is how this tool as a "side effect" expands and changes the ways of relating to painting by emphasizing interactivity and audience participation.


For the exhibition in the Kabinet T gallery, Jakub decided to include a new element in the program, which is the sonification of image data. A script written by Jakub's colleague from FaVU, Tomáš Hrůza, enables the modulation of sound recordings inserted into the digital library based on the captured image data. After Jakub decided that the main motif of the paintings created during the exhibition at Gallery Kabinet T would be a view of the sky, he approached NASA and obtained permission to use the sound files that were created as an output of a project focused on recording the sounds of space bodies. The machine extensions of our senses and our bodies thus conduct an imaginary dialogue with each other - with a little help from us. His theme is the sky, that is, that which has provoked the human imagination since time immemorial, which is one of the ever-eclipsing horizons of our knowledge and which is a necessary building block of almost all cosmogonies and religions. I originally wanted to write more about what comes to my mind every time I come to Zlín and sail into the Baťov industrial complex. About capitalism. Namely, about the connections between painting, art and "venture capitalism", with which Jakub shares an interest in what happens at the boundaries of systems, or in the issue of performativity. In the end, I think it is more interesting to focus on another aspect (and let it resonate with the one just mentioned) of Jakub's work, namely the strong need for sharing and cooperation, which also has a lot to do with the mentioned shifting of boundaries.


která ale – na rozdíl od obdivu ke tvořivé destrukci – zároveň souvisí s potřebou ukotvit svou existenci a práci v nějaké formě spirituality. Spojení, které může na první pohled vypadat nečekaně, nakonec až tak překvapivé není. Americká kontrakultura přelomu 60. a 70. let (jež se později stala jedním ze základů „kalifornské ideologie“) se zajímala stejně tak o demokratizační potenciál nových médií jako byla prosycena zájmem o budování alternativních společenství a o spiritualitu, který v současnosti, hroutící se pod náporem tolika souběžných krizí, nabývá opět na aktuálnosti. Jakkoli malbot a jeho práce zůstávají ve „vlastním poli“, tj. pokračuje v nich v nějakém smyslu odkaz modernismu, je dobré mít na mysli, že toto pole není jen prostorem snění média o sobě samém, ale je také místem, kde se dá snít o tom, co je za horizontem nebo za neproniknutelnou černí noční oblohy.


An exhibition experiment in which painting was presented as a process, not as a definitive artefact. At the same time, a painting tool - "malbot" - was tested in this process, making a painting independently of manual control and the author's handwriting.
In the background of the exhibition stood the question, where does painting stretch when human actors are left behind in its creation? The painting presented as a process moved somewhere between the imprint of technology adapted to serial production and the gestures of physical processes. Malbot technology and painting material as autonomous actors entered the space of painting with capacities exceeding not only the capabilities of the human body (its endurance, ability to repeat the same action over and over again), but also the capabilities of individual imagination.  

The exhibition (re)presented the painting in three phases, in which the material of the painting was gradually transformed from a latent, liquid form, through a solid form hardened on the surface of the canvas during the duration of the exhibition, to the once again "liquid" form of digital image data obtained by scanning the surface of the paintings. At the same time, the last phase proved to be the most informative within the exhibition, as it tangibly manifested the loss of physical and charged virtual qualities of the same material. The Expo_dist digital environment used for the purpose of this presentation is designed specifically to accentuate the qualities of digital painting material and serve as an ideal alternative to canvas.

The original leitmotif of the exhibition was the view of the sky as a multifaceted symbol – an open field of shared imagination, both spiritual and technological. From the fleeting effects of the colors of the twilight sky, during the course of the exhibition, the symbolic center of gravity of the imagination moved more towards digital processes and their error rate. A shift unintended, but symptomatic of the burdensome presence pulling the vanishing point of our imagination from looking up and out, rather inward and down...

Jakub Tajovský is a doctoral student at FaVU BUT, where he researches the "design" of painting. At the same time, he focuses on painting as a set of specific material practices. In a historical perspective, not only painting styles and techniques change, but also the entire material-craft/industrial complex. Focusing on the material aspects of painting, a partial output of which is an online database, opened the way to viewing the individual elements entering the painting process as autonomous actors. In this perspective, not only the concept of authorship is being revised, but also the central position of the "spectator", which the Zlín exhibition clearly demonstrated.

Text authors: Jan Zálešák and Jakub Tajovský

Photo credit: Patrik Fica and Matěj Skalický 


The sounds of space bodies were used for the audiovisual projection Expo_dist courtesy of NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian. 

Additional interactive sonification was programmed by Tomáš Hrůza. 

The audiovisual platform for digital painting Expo_dist is created in collaboration with Jakub Valtar.

Painting design 


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