Czech artist, Jan Kaláb, first whetted his graffiti appetite in the early 90s, before feasting upon the aromatic world of street art. Influenced by urban jungles, natural surroundings, fellow contemporary masters and abstract notions; Jan Kaláb’s canvases form whimsical and spellbinding coils of colour. Viewers are transported into the unique world of Kaláb’s kaleidoscopic abstractions, as he captures even the transience of motion through his paint brush.
Join us as we meet the man behind the circles.
You’re certainly one of the central figures of urban art in the Czech Republic, why did you choose to pursue this genre?
I first became a graffiti writer in the early 90s, but I had previously spent 10 years intensely painting on walls and trains.
As time went by, I developed my visual language step by step, and new genres popped up along the way like street art and later, Urban Art. So, I only recently fit into the street art ‘box’; to many I am still considered a contemporary artist.
I always wanted to capture movement and transformation.
Your works are truly hypnotic; simultaneously fluid and geometric, minimalist and complex… how do you achieve such an effect? Can you tell us about your artistic technique?
I painted for so long before I got established this technique, but I always aimed to capture movement and transformation. Once I decided to explore abstraction and not use letters anymore, the goal turned into reducing elements in the picture. After a while, I simplified the elements to squares and circles, and then I stepped away from squares and just depicted circles. I use a pretty common technique – painting with brushes and spray guns on canvas. What is unusual however, are my custom shape stretcher frames which I paint on.
Jan Kálab, your style has evolved to incorporate more abstract elements, do you think urban art has changed dramatically since you started? Or do you think what is considered urban art has widened?
In my opinion, we are talking about a group of guys who started their careers painting on walls. Then, whilst growing up, their skills became more sophisticated and their creativity more varied. The variety of styles in street art is so diverse now, it is impossible for me to consider Urban Art as a sole genre. Back to your question, yes, it has changed a lot and what it incorporates has widened so much compared to when it started. When you think back to the start of street art, it was literally a tag in black marker on a wall.
The variety of styles in street art is so diverse now, it is impossible for me to consider Urban Art as a sole genreJan Kálab
What or who inspires your art?
Everything! Haha. You get ideas simply by looking at things: other artworks, nature… I try to absorb it all! When I find inspiration, I dig deep within myself so I can find a way to communicate it to the world.
When I find inspiration, I dig deep within myself so I can find a way to communicate it to the world.
We are talking about a group of guys who started their careers painting on walls. Then, whilst growing up, their skills became more sophisticated and their creativity more varied.
Do you have any new projects or exhibitions coming up?
Wow, so many! It’s amazing how many creatives want to work with me at the moment! I’m pretty excited about my first solo exhibition in Taipei this July, and either side of this I have other exhibitions. I definitely have to work hard, and be careful not to let the pressure get to me. I also want to focus more on sculptures which I find a lot more challenging than painting.