Like every village boy, I experienced my childhood in the changing of the seasons during the year. In winter we looked forward to spring, then to the beauty of summer when we could run barefoot, bruise our toes and swim in the pond with the geese. But the colours made autumn the loveliest season of all. Back then I only drew, and knew nothing about painting. Today I can no longer precisely recall the moment when I painted my first picture on a piece of cardboard from a shoe-box, that windy late afternoon with a kite flying in the heavy skies, children by the open fire and cattle grazing. I only remember my longing to paint that autumn experience. Childhood impressions are especially deeply engraved on the soul.
I enjoy recalling my way to school, which led around a solitary pear tree standing in the middle of a garden beyond the village. I later painted that tree in all four seasons. If it could speak, it would tell me how I looked as a child. But trees do not speak, although they remember a great deal. We only have a feeling that they are reproaching us, and rightly accusing us of poisoning their land, water and air.
If there is one lesson that Prague regularly teaches its visitors and inhabitants, it is that no dimension of experience need necessarily be as simple as it might appear. Communities within communities, history within history, ideas within ideas - invisible layers are omnipresent in the Prague psyche. In this city, it continually seems that "everything is the other way round". Looking back into another period of Prague's history, it is as if Jiri Anderle, half-consciously and half-unconsciously, has spent his life exploring a parallel plane to that of Giuseppe Arcimboldo (c. 1527-1593), court painter to successive Habsburg kings in Prague who created fantastic artistic visions in the form of heads composed out of fruit, vegetables, flowers and books. The magical encounter between the spheres of the objective and the subjective that brought the world Rudolfine alchemists, Arcimboldo's grotesque figurative allegories and Kafka's labyrinthine hall of mirrors is the same power behind the artistic expression of Jiri Anderle. He shows us the way into his Thesian world, and it is then up to us to thread our way through its multitude of levels.
© 2003 Jiri Anderle, ArtForum / ICZ a.s.