Daniel Pešta is an artist with a lot to say, and he’s well worth getting acquainted with, to say the least. His work is deeply expressive, profound, and stirring. Many times it’s frightening, because people can be quite frightening, and Daniel Pešta has a good deal of insight when it comes to human nature.
Daniel Pešta’s largest exhibition to date, drawn from his high-flying decade starting in 2007 , which has included three Venice appearances and Second Prize in Painting at 2017’s London Art Biennale, dominates Prague’s DOX Centre for Contemporary Art. Pešta’s work is timely, disturbing and profound. His extraordinary artistic range encompasses photography, video, assemblage, installation, sculpture, drawing and painting; his materials include wax, leather, resin, textiles, paper, plaster, wood, acrylic, latex, gum, paint, neon lighting, and stone. Two generative objects pull this exhibition together. One is red string, signifying blood, genetic coding, fatalism, or humanity’s endlessness, variously. The other is the mask. A central motif in Pešta’s practice, it is meant to evoke disguise, dissemblance, and anonymity.
Born in 1959, Pešta lived according to the larger Czech struggle for self-determination. He was painting as the Czechs stumbled out of the darkness of Communist rule in 1989. In the mid-1980s he entered into the underground music scene, anticipating what has been dubbed the “Velvet Revolution” — the demise of what former Czech President Vaclav Havel had called “post-totalitarianism” (in his 1978 samizdat essay “The Power of the Powerless”). After a trip to New York, in 1998, Pešta saw the possibilities of multimedia art.
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