REVIEWS

"Oldřich Jelen often laughs, and, as far as I know, he neverraises his voice. In the time of assertive personalities acting in the exactly opposite way, this may seem to be soft and wobbly. But in situations when it comes to the crunch, when an opinion has to be maintained, Oldřich Jelen is as tough as leather – he sticks to his outlook and does not waver from his believes. And that is why he has something that defines an artistic, creative personality on the first sight: his distinctive brushwork. I like his brushwork. Jelen´s figures hidden under hoods, the tellingly sharpened scythes, the faces of women with many eyes, shadows come to life and traces of unknown limbs evoke a rather morbid atmosphere. Yet despite all this there is no awe, no evil or scare in it – Jelen´s entire world is held together by a secret smile, even childlike amusement over the endless surprises of life. Naturally it is more than just his brushwork. It is an attitude. An enchanted notion of those dimensions of things which can be neither captured by technical photography nor described by science. That is where Oldřich Jelen is heading to: the heart of objects and their reverse sides. Working with him is an adventure. I know it, it was with him that I took part in such expeditions. He has illustrated my essays for more than fifteen years – beginning with the „Letters of Love and Hate” in the magazine Mladý svět in 1992, I think, and ending with those being now published in the daily Hospodářské noviny. To him I owe my thanks for the additional dimension of my book… and when the next one is out, Oldřich Jelen must be there. Who else could – albeit without words – explain so well what I actually wrote in it?"

Michal Horáček

"I first got to know the pieces of ar t by Oldřich Jelen some fifteen years ago. That time I saw playing cards, already a kind of cult ones in the company in which I saw them. They were unusual and miraculous. In any case, though, they awoke my interest and to be honest it is exactly since that time I have been following this ar tist’s growing and evolving creative way, evolution, and its variations and changes. The scope of his work is admirable and reaches from magazine illustrations (on scientific, sci-fi, or technical themes) or fairy tales through to for example an annual repor t or an energy company. I love illustrations congenial to a text of Michal Horáček’s book called “O české krvi otců vlasti”. As a matter of fact, we collaborated when illustrating Michal Horáček’s stories in Mladý svět weekly when my pictures accompanied the Lot and his wife story, while Oldřich’s appeared on pages of Lettres of Love and Hate (Dopisy z lásky a nenávisti). We have also had a few joint exhibitions, for instance at an event organised by an Olomouc psychiatrist and gallery owner, Libor Gronský, called Homage to Sigmund Freud, a native of nearby Příbor. Oldřich introduced his top creation called “the Psychoanalyst” there. Eventually we have also met in person and I have to say I was not surprised by his sincerity and fervour. We got to talk about technology, colours, and graphic techniques, paper, structures, repeatability as well as about the lack of time we both suffered from. I buy books because they are illustrated by Oldřich. He is a sovereign creator who allows us to introspect his won cruel and naive world full of prodigious characters and stories, with all the rest niggling. He proves my conviction that original and good creation always needs talent, industriousness on the edge of obsession, and dissatisfaction with yourself knowing something can be done even better. These days when anyone who claims to be an ar tist becomes one, when handicraft is considered a bit needless and might be even a bit shameful, Oldřich is a stream of pure water in my eyes. He has got one and only real enemy like all of us – the enemy being his bad illustrations, paintings, drawings, or graphics. I wish him the least number of real enemies, preferably none. Well, I cer tainly do not want to hold you off any more – let’s enter his world free from fear, full of curiosity and let ourselves carried away to all directions of his fantasy, not only to his/our childhood (when each and every day represented the universe of endless cognition) and back again. The journey is demanding and not exactly time-saving, quite the opposite. Oldřich is a creator who offers his own world, does not look back to fashion, does not thumb through ar t magazines or up-to-date encyclopaedias to be able to follow trends of the day, and in order to allow ar t historians look for connections and parallels with the others’ pieces of ar t. He is not interested in current events and happenings on the ar t scene. He does not copy, he creates in his very own way, in the most natural way. Why is that? He has a lot to offer, he is talented, and the talent needs to burst out and create – everything."

Boris Jirků