Jiří Valoch

Born 1946 in Brno, Czech Republic.

Jiří Valoch is a writer of concrete poetry. He is also a curator.

In 1968, during the time of the Prague Spring – still before the celebrated exhibition Cybernetic Serendipity opened in London on the 2nd August 1968, and also before the symposium and exhibition Tendencies 4: Computers and Visual Reserach started in Zagreb (Croatia) began on the 3rd August 1968 – Valoch organized in Czechoslovakia (now: Czech Republic, Česká Republika) an exhibition of digital art (then usually called “computer art”).

It was shown in February 1968 in Brno (at Dům umění města = House of Arts), in March 1968 in Jihlava (_Oblastní galerie vysociny_), and in April 1968 in Gottwaldov (now Zlin) (_Oblastni galerie vytvarného umění_). The show came under the title Computer Graphics with works by Charles Csuri, Leslei Mezei, Frieder Nake, Georg Nees, A. Michael Noll, and Lubomír Sochor. Frieder Nake gave a lecture at the Brno opening. A little brochure was published (texts in the Czech language).

This show was, most likely, the first of digital art in Eastern Europe. Why would the young concrete poet arrange this? The connection he created between images and text, between calculation and construction, but also between East and West, may have its roots in the rationalistic attitude prevalent in European arts of the time. It is the time of information aesthetics (Max Bense, Abraham A. Moles, and others), of Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s, of experimental theatre, and of the student and youth revolts in France, West-Germny, Italy.

The time was marked by a break away from semantics. Jiří Valoch’s art is, in the 1970s, an art of radical minimalism and of a concentration on concept more than material. In those years, he designed and realized a large number of books in very small editions of only a few copies that he sent to other artists. Those works have a few pages only, often empty, or almost empty pages, and definitely without pictures.

Valoch had a show at Neues Museum Weserburg in Bremen, Germany, from 27 April to 6 July, 1997, under the title Bücher (“books”). As volume 18 of the Sammlung der Künstlerbücher (“collection of artists’ books”), a booklet by Valoch was published. It contains a series of white pages, each of them with just one word (the back of the page is left empty). They read:

»page by page you discover the mystery of this book«.

Valoch was born in 1946 in Brno. He studied Bohemistics, German, and Aesthetics. Since 1963 he has been experimenting with visual and concrete poetry. He is also a curator at Dům umění města in Brno.

Exhibitions organized: Computer Graphic