Collage was a favourite technique of the surrealist poets because it enabled them to immerse themselves in the same dream-like waters that the surrealist painters explored – without the need to do anything except cut, paste and let their imagination run free. Collage is a genuinely surrealist technique; it relies on the artist’s skill in stealing the original identity of the things they depict and then imbuing these things with a new identity – a much brighter identity, accompanied by a murderously sexy new story. The author of a collage can capture something phenomenal, something connected with secret dreams, eternal archetypes, lost knowledge: the artist knows the direction in which human imagery flows. Martin Došek has been creating and exhibiting collages since the 1990s. He takes his material from magazines, whose visual aspects convey a recent image of our world; in this source he is able to find the essence of processes, relationships, and hidden connections. He enters into famous images guided by a feeling of empathy – a form of Einfühlung – and above all in a spirit of fun.
His collages repeatedly feature a number of central themes. One of these is Salomé, the femme fatale so well-known from the art of the symbolists and film noir. The woman’s head in the background of the collage Sol is a sun, an explosion, a catastrophe and the cause of that catastrophe, a whimsical divine being. We are gladly transported to the vicinity of the stars, the very beginnings of the immense universe. The emergence of life and chaos theory are just as mysterious and inexplicable as human relationships or beauty. The collages lead us through dreams of paradise, of Utopia. We lose ourselves in an ocean alongside giant whales and nymphs. We accompany aviators on flights of discovery, pilgrims lost on their journeys to their destination and into the depths of their subconscious. We enter into the intimate preserve of sex and small pains. We are referred to films, overarching narratives of civilizations, and artistic masterpieces. The techniques are filmic: immersion, interaction, fragmentation, incompleteness, continuity, looping, hyper-reality…
Martin Došek’s collages from the 1990s are imbued with a dark atmosphere, their figures filling the entire available space. His later compositions are more fragmentary, with more striking colours. Each collage gives the impression of a cut from a music video, a film screened just once in time, or an exceptionally precise memory of a midnight dream. Došek is interested in collage because it is an entirely free form. He paints and writes over the glued images: this is not some pop art décollage, but rather a genuine, properly old-school surrealist obsession.
Martina Vítková, October 2019
I´m just playing, says Martin Došek with mysterious smile, which advises and bears to herewith his aversion to comment his production anyway. All the more he evokes the parallel with dutch painter, Hieronymus Bosch, who is indicated as a surrealist of the 15th century. Došek sticks his collages one by one with no less urgent memento, the same way as Bosch didn´t let anyone introspect into his inward, and disgorged pictures, presented the magic of the Middle Ages (with everything, what it meant), with crudeness, heading to the bone. Defile of women or girls on his collages, or more precisely their absolut adoration (pious veneration, not worship), with total absence of men (except of the holy ones), whose phallic presence is limited just to quizzical plumy creatures, evokes escapement into the false Eden, which has to lead along destruction of humankind. Surrealism is fortunately an avant-garde artistic direction, which has nothing in common with conventional logic schemes, and is plunging us in fantastic images and dreams. The power of Došek´s minimalist collages subsists in the fact, that we easily believe him, that Saint Sebastian was stabbed to the death by some courtesan during a ride in a limousine, or that a unicorn is a hairy blonde girl, indeed. The sins of the humankind have nowise fallen since the Middle Ages, vice versa maybe, the Last Judgment is still far from it. Maybe just a bizarre combination of dream and reality, life and death enables us to survive the unsurviveable.
Jarmila Kudláčková 2008, Translation: Kryštof Kudláček