Jan Kaláb is a Czech artist that was one of the pioneers of graffiti in his homeland. His career stretched from Prague’s train yards to painting whole cars in NYC. Around that time, in 2000, he developed an interest in 3D graffiti and because of that, eventually, he started sculpting huge abstract letters. Only later, when in 2007 he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts of Prague, did his interest in three-dimensional works evolve into a passion for abstraction. Also, Jan Kaláb’s works became more geometric-based over time. So in his current practice, he often uses squares and circles as the main shapes or forms.
‘I have to say the most difficult for me was to find the way from letters to abstraction. Once I didn’t want to repeat my name (Cakes) in different styles anymore, I realized I lost the most important thing – the theme. And, it takes time to build up a new one from there.
I began to work with fragments that remained and I tried to picture what I was only thinking about before. Infinity, movement, change. From that moment my work evolved pretty naturally.
I decided to study a circle, and the possibilities also, because not many people did at that time. It is more simple to work with straight lines. I also like the idea of what a circle is – a line around a point.
Point is a name I used for building graffiti sculptures, and because of sculptures, I was able to see the letters from the back side which eventually led me to abstraction. So when I think about all that, it all makes sense.’ — Jan Kaláb.
‘The circle is a very complex shape. You can see a planet or a cell in it if you put a little imperfection to it. Actually, a lot of people ask if the organic circles represent an eyeball. I didn’t think about that before, but yes, if you alternate something in the right way, it usually gets universal meaning.
Lately, I’m focused more on the visual value of my work. I like to play with colors and want to transfer the joy of painting to a viewer. So, the works talk clear and simple without using too many sentences, if you know what I mean. I would be happy to know my work made the observer feel happy while looking at it.’ — Jan Kaláb.