Czech artist Jan Kaláb has evolved from a graffiti and street art pioneer in Prague to a master of abstract expression across multiple mediums, transitioning from the streets to the canvas and beyond. Intertwining painting and sculpture, Kaláb’s work is distinguished by the playful manipulation of shape and color and the evocation of familiar sensations through novel visual experiences.

Jing Daily Culture recently caught up with Jan Kaláb to discuss his new “pocket paintings” collection, delving into the inspiration behind transforming his larger works into compact, hand-held formats. This conversation also explored how these miniature pieces aim to enhance viewer engagement and symbolize a new phase in Kalab’s diverse artistic journey, encompassing graffiti, painting, and sculpture.

Your latest collection features miniature replicas of your larger works. What inspired you to create art in such a compact format, and how do you believe this format impacts the viewer’s experience of your art?

I like to create accessible formats of my own works for everybody. I always try to come up with a new and fun concept. I created some small paintings last year and I wanted to develop them this year. I even made the size smaller to fit into one hand easily (like a phone) and then I got the idea of calling it “pocket paintings.”

One design would be too little and ten too many. So I decided to do seven different designs for each day of the week. All are miniatures of my larger paintings. So if someone buys all of them, he or she has a nice collection of different styles. 🙂

“Burning Wave 522,” Acrylic on relief canvas, 2022

Having evolved from graffiti and street art to paintings, sculptures, and 3-D installations, how do you see this transition reflected in your new miniature collection? Does it embody a new phase in your artistic journey?

If you want to compare it to graffiti, doing a painting is like creating a graffiti piece [on a] hall of fame wall. These pocket paintings could be seen as tags, there are many of them and you want to get them into different areas. Creating mini paintings is just one fun project amongst many others. But putting all these 350 mini paintings looked cool and I really liked it!

With the miniatures being pocket-sized and appealing to a wide range of audiences, including children, was increasing accessibility to your art a key consideration in this project? How do you see these miniatures bridging gaps between different art enthusiasts?

Accessibility is only one aspect. I like challenges. Painting a large big piece is always challenging, but going in the opposite direction could be challenging as well. I also like to observe which project will be the most successful and which one will be the least. It is difficult to predict and I like seeing the results.

“Mini Pink Void,” 2023

Your website highlights your exhibitions in major cities around the world, from New York to Shanghai. How do these cultural experiences influence your artistic style and themes?

I am trying to create my art in the most universal way possible. So you do not need to have any cultural knowledge of it to enjoy it.

What future projects or artistic explorations are you considering? How do you envision your art evolving in the coming years?

I already have a full calendar of exhibitions for next year. I would like to develop 3D objects, more sculptures, large projects, museum shows and public art installations.

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