Jan Merta

To the People of Prague on My Sixtieth Birthday

15. 3. — 29. 4. 2012
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To the People of Prague on My Sixtieth Birthday

The artist himself has called the exhibition ‘To the People of Prague’ to mark his approaching sixtieth birthday. The painter has prepared fourteen oils on canvas and one sculpture specially for the Gallery.

 When I visit Jan Merta’s studio, I usually goes like this: I knock on the door. Jan (who turns sixty this year) opens it for me, smiles, and I have the distinct feeling that although he’s alone in the studio, I’ve interrupted him in the midst of telling some amusing story. I look around the studio, at the step-ladder on which stands a work in progress. ‘Won’t you at least have a cup of tea?’, Jan, or Honza, asks.

On my last two visits he also offered me some chocolate. Supposedly his wife Lenka buys it for him so that he can survive. I break the excellent dark-brown bar into pieces, and am almost certain that I’m on a military exercise. Honza shows me a table with soldiers’ epaulettes showing the different ranks in the Czech Army and he tells me how during the recent cold snap he ran a fever of 42 degrees Celsius in his studio. That is the last mark of calibration on a doctor’s mercury thermometer. As a child I sometimes wondered what happens above that.

We discuss the exhibition in the Špála Gallery. I know, at least a bit, how Honza paints. The paintings with their strokes and colours emerge from, and submerge into, the canvas, just as the reason for each of them is independent of the events, stories, flashes, glimmers, nooks and crannies, and memories of Honza’s life. It’s clear to me that he’ll never have the paintings ready. He tells me, moreover, that he’s fourteen years late. It occurs to me that the exhibition could also have the subtitle: Martial Law.

Martin Dostál

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Works on display (a selection)

Jan Merta

*1952-12-04 , Šumperk
Married with two sons, lives and works in Prague and České Lhotice, east Bohemia.


1981Academy of Fine Arts, Prague (1981-1987) 1968Secondary school for the visual arts, Prague (1968-1972)

selected individual exhibitions

2011‘Mým Jihomoravanům’ (To the People of South Moravia), 
Galerie města Blanska, Blansko
‘Liberec III’, Topičův salon, Prague
‘Der Frühling ist gekommen’ (Spring Is Here), 
Johnen Galerie, Berlin
2010‘Na prahu kariéry’ (On the Threshold of a Career), 
Galerie 207, Prague
‘LAOZI’, Galerie Zdeněk Sklenář, Prague
‘Jan Merta’, Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna
‘Geist und Materie’ (Mind and Matter), 
Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich
‘Stockhausenova symfonie’ (A Stockhausen Symphony), 
Galerie Zdeněk Sklenář, Prague
‘Na papíře 1982–2010’ (On paper, 1982–2010), 
Galerie ARS, Brno
2009Exhibition, Wannieck Gallery, Brno 2008‘11 Moralities’, Galerie Johnen + Schöttle, Cologne
‘Jan Merta’, Galerie ad astra, Kuřim
2007‘11 moralities’, Galerie na bidýlku, Brno
‘Jan Merta, Jiří Kovanda’, Johnen Galerie, Berlin
2006‘Liberec’, Malá výstavní síň, Liberec
‘Jan Merta’, Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich
‘Jan Merta’, the Josef Pleskot halls, Smetana’s Litomyšl
2005‘Jan Merta’, Východočeská galerie, Pardubice
‘Obrazy 1985–2005 a práce na papíře’ 
(Paintings, 1985–2005, and works on paper), 
Moravská galerie – Pražákův palác, Brno
2004‘Jan Merta’, Galerie kai de kai, Prague 2003‘Jan Merta’, Galerie Ars, Brno 2002‘2000+2 / *1952’, AP Atelier, Prague 2001‘Jan Merta’, Výstavní síň Sokolská 26, Ostrava
‘Obrazy’ (Paintings), Dům umění, České Budějovice

awards and appreciations

2009voted Eminent Figure of the Year 
(in a poll organized by GAVU Cheb, Art+Antiques, and for important work in the fine arts
2005voted Eminent Figure of the Year 
(in a poll organized by GAVU Cheb, Art+Antiques, and for important work in the fine arts


2004represented by Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, 
Munich, and Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna
2003 represented by Galerie Johnen + Schöttle, 
Cologne, later Galerie Johnen, Berlin
1991represented by Galerie MXM, Prague (1991-2002) 1972various jobs outside the field of art (1972-1981)

GalleryVáclav Špála

Galerie Václava Špály

Národní 30, 110 00 Prague 1, Czech Republic

Open daily 11 AM – 7 PM


Admission 40 CZK
For students 20 CZK

/ seniors and disabled holders 50% discount


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