Born: April 10, 1957; Mlada Boleslav, Czechoslovakia
Jiri Valeš was born during the reign of terror of the Communist regime. At an early age, he discovered the beauty and comfort of painting. His favorite artist: Zdenek Burian, a Czech artist that paints prehistoric animals, and the first artistic influence at the beginning of Valeš’ aesthetic journey.
One of Valeš’ childhood teachers discovered his gift and attempted to help with his artistic development. However, the majority of his teachers were against developing his talent and Valeš was imposed a different destiny by the state. He was determined not to give in to the whims of the state and continued to study art and painting when not working at his dictated profession.
Positive changes in the Czechoslovakian political climate made it possible for Valeš to more actively pursue his artistic dreams. From 1977 to 1990, he was able enroll in a secondary school of art and follow private art lessons given by academic artists teaching at the Prague Art Academy. Today, Valeš is a full-time artist happily pursuing his aesthetic dreams.
To truly appreciate Jiri Valeš’ work, one has to understand the nature of the artist. He compares his career to that of mountain climbing – the start is insignificant because the whole journey is nothing more than a series of starts. All that matters is the tenacity and determination one brings to reach the summit. But if you think that the summit is the true goal, you probably were not paying attention to the climb – a metaphor for his struggle to become an artist in Communist Czechoslovakia.
Valeš’ art is rooted in his struggle to surpass his physical and spiritual limitations. Originally, he was primarily a landscape painter. Through his close contacts with, and his careful scrutiny of nature, he discovered that regularity permeated the seemingly haphazard forms of external reality. This realization pushed him into the world of figurative art. As he explored the figure, he discovered that regularity permeated the core of the human psyche. His search for the essence of this regularity ultimately developed his spiritual self and led him to the understanding that light was the regulating force of both internal and external reality. For him, light has three special properties that make it possible for it to regulate reality – it defines, penetrates and reveals. Valeš’ paintings are about the regulating and defining powers of light, which is why he paints nocturnal streets illuminated by lanterns that define an area, cut through the dark, and reveal the surroundings.
Valeš’ does not participate in competitions. He does exhibit his work, and to date, he feels that he has had 80 important shows – 50 collective and 30 solo exhibitions – in the Czech Republic, Sovakia and Austria. His paintings can be found in American, Austrian, Dutch, French, German, Polish, Swedish, and Swiss private collections. One of his paintings is part of the National Czech Collection.