Since the beginning of his career, Dolejš has explored – in painting and photography – the complications of representation and documentation. Night Shift, Dolejš's first exhibition at Fitzrovia Gallery, comprises a series of still lives that examine the techniques and visual language of contemporary photography.
The title work of the exhibition, Night Shift, is composed of two panels. The work can be read as a sequence in either time or space. Hovering between the abstract and figurative, neither image tells the whole story. With the aid of artificial lighting and unsubtle cropping, isolated fragments of what could be a drama take on the appearance of abstract grey gradients. The diptych is a warning to never take images at their face value, and a subtitle to Dolejš's artistic intentions.
Commercial photography and foremost food photography is one the targets of Dolejš's recent, visually critical works. His neatly staged still lives reiterate and intensify the techniques applied in most modern commercial photography. Seduction and glamour are allowed to flourish, only to be cut short by glimpses of the studio setting or props.
A second set of diptychs, Night and Day, employ familiar tropes of Dutch 17th century still lives. Burning candles, melting ice cubes and half-eaten fruit become symbols of time. Measuring instruments and clear water in Day are contrasted by black plastic bin bags, bottles of white spirit and lavish red velvet in Night. As in most Dolejš’s work, humour is never far away. The grandiose subject matter and elegance is undermined by overexposure and lack of cohesion. A sense of meaningless arises as the indistinct and emblematic objects are studied individually, damned by final touches and artificial gloss.
Night Shift is an exhibition about hyperrealism in modern imagery; a note on the losses we face as we strive to achieve clarity in our symbolic and material world.
Jakub Dolejš's work been included in exhibitions at the National Gallery of Canada, Vancouver Art Gallery, East International in Norwich, and the National Gallery in Prague among other venues. It has been purchased by collectors across North America, including the National Gallery of Canada.