Vojtěch Kovařík - New Now London Thursday, July 13, 2023 | Phillips
  • Czech artist Vojtěch Kovařík, born in 1993, has gained recognition for his depictions of mythology and iconography. His compositions feature enormous human figures that dominate the canvases, almost parodying the characters they represent. Growing up in Eastern Europe, Kovařík found inspiration in Soviet propaganda sculptures, which depicted imposing male figures that dominated the space they inhabited. By merging elements of storytelling, politics, and mythology alongside more contemporary themes, he creates paintings that communicate universal symbolic meanings while retaining the stamp of his own, highly individualised approach.


    Executed in 2019 using spray paint and acrylic, Adam depicts a figure so closely cropped that the head and face are elided, focusing our attention more closely on symbolism than specifics. While this ‘Adam’ could be anyone, the inclusion of a rosy-red apple set on a surface in front of the figure aligns him more closely with the Biblical figure and first man. In this context, apples are associated with temptation, sin, expulsion from paradise and knowledge. Apples are deeply symbolic in Slavic mythology too, representing rejuvenating power and being widely recognised as the fruit from the Tree of Life. Kovařík's artistic choices exemplify his understanding of art history and how he reimagines the portrayal of religious and mythological figures and symbolism. His depiction of Adam diverges from the portrayals by artists such as Lucas Cranach the elder and Titian, employing a simplified style that evokes a sense of fragility and contemplation in the otherwise overtly masculine figure.


    In line with his other works featuring prominent male characters like Hakuho, David, and Knock-out where faces appear blurred, Adam's face here remains hidden, emphasising how the boundaries of the canvas contain and frame a character. Kovařík's unique reinterpretation of the appearances of Hercules, Adam, and other characters also reflects the contemporary controversy surrounding the concept of authenticity in Western culture's visual representation of historical figures. Adam is not depicted nude as commonly seen in religious iconography, instead he is dressed in somewhat modern attire, much like the artist’s depictions of mythical figures like Hercules in vivid, unnatural hues that featured in the artist’s recent solo exhibition with Mendes Wood DM in Brussels. Kovařík's paintings convey his personal interpretations of these narratives, much like the way in which such stories have been retold and reinterpreted through the ages, reflecting the influence of more traditional, oral traditions.

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner



signed, titled and dated 'VOJTECH KOVARIK "ADAM" 2019' on the reverse
acrylic and spray paint on linen
199.7 x 180 cm (78 5/8 x 70 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2019.

Full Cataloguing

£20,000 - 30,000 ‡♠

Sold for £50,800

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Charlotte Gibbs
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New Now

London Auction 13 July 2023