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“Dusk of the Gods” Vojtěch Kovařík’s first solo exhibition

Mendes Wood DM
September 09,2022 - October 08,2022
Vojtěch Kovařík, The Golden Apple (To the Most Beautiful), 2022, acrylic and sand on canvas, 160 x 220 cm. Courtesy of Mendes Wood DM

September 9, 2022 October 8, 2022

Mendes Wood DM is proud to present Dusk of the Gods, Czech artist Vojtěch Kovařík’s first solo exhibition in New York, following his previous shows with the gallery in São Paulo, Brazil, and Villa Era, Italy. 

With his personal interest in Ancient Greek art and mythology as a point of departure, Kovařík has created a new body of work inspired by the myth of the Golden Apple, in which Eris, the Greek goddess of discord, presents a golden apple to Paris, a prince of Troy, which he would later give to one of three goddesses whom he considered the most beautiful—Aphrodite, Hera, or Athena. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, persuades Paris to choose her by promising him, in exchange, the most beautiful woman in the world as his wife: Helen of Argos. When Helen of Argos, soon to become Helen of Troy, subsequently falls in love with Paris, and he with her, the stage is set for the War of Troy. 

Large scale, immersive paintings of these mythical scenes—gods, goddesses, and ancient heroes—are on view across both floors of the gallery space. In the artist’s signature style, these figures appear to be set in stone,  somehow frozen in the melancholy space of a pictorial frame that refuses to give their heaving bodies the space they need. Solidified by their own sculptural mass and presence, they appear to be as tired and jaded as they are imposing and visually arresting, as if there were no room for the old gods in today’s world. 

Kovařík’s new body of work is the result of extensive experimentation and development of his painterly technique. A more pronounced use of sand, mixed with acrylic and spray paint, gives the figures their mass and volume while a surgical application of oil paint accentuates color and space within each painting’s composition. 

Crucially, this exhibition includes a group of sculptures realized in wood, sand, and acrylic paint, which will shine a light on Kovařík’s early training as a sculptor and ceramist, before he turned his hand to painting. The fil rouge remains evident, as we are confronted with real sculptures installed among paintings of sculptural bodies, showing the continuity and coherence of Kovarik’s practice which, despite the artist’s young age, displays an uncanny degree of maturity and artistic research.


Vojtěch Kovařík (born 1993, Valašské Meziříčí, Czech Republic) lives and works in Ivrea, Italy. For Vojtěch Kovařík, iconography and mythology are fundamental to his work. His large-format, forceful and vividly colored compositions result in impactful paintings that evoke the strength of sculpture. His herculean figures are contorted, seemingly defeated by the frame of the canvas, flaunting their blue, green, and yellow flesh amongst vegetal backgrounds. Kovařík was first trained in ceramics and sculpture and started painting later as an autodidact. This self-taught formation led him to mix oil, acrylic, and spray paint suggesting relief in a plane surface.

Figures from Greek mythology as well as pop culture references appear in Kovařík’s paintings, fully embracing figuration. His interest in Greek mythology comes from its importance in the European cultural collective unconscious but subverts its meaning by reconstructing its most prominent characters. The Hesperides (Nymphs of the Night) become rotund men, Artemis far from her frail archer archetype morphs into an imposing death figure. Conversely, many stereotypically hyper-masculine characters display postures evoking fragility and introspection. Their faces are often blurred (Hakuho, David, Knock-out) or presented as masks (Hermes, Iron Mike, Gladiator), showing their difficulty to claim a firm identity. Goliath is depicted in pink while Prometheus strikes a sensual pose.

Kovařík’s tone sways ambiguously between violence and silliness. His giant, flagrantly flaunting their masculinity become caricatures, ridiculous objects of curiosity. His purposeful exaggeration of human anatomy creates a sense of honesty and naïveté, questioning the traditional notion of physical strength and power.

Image: Vojtěch Kovařík, The Golden Apple (To the Most Beautiful), 2022, acrylic and sand on canvas, 160 x 220 cm. Courtesy of Mendes Wood DM.

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