Jan Harant, Painter
The vibrant colours in Jan’s paintings represent happiness and good times, however, sometimes it can be hard to put up with difficulties in life. A couple of years ago Jan spent some time attending mental health therapy to overcome depression, caused by lack of love in his family and a stressful job, where he was bullied. Alongside professional help, it was Jan’s art that helped him recover.
Right at the beginning of the therapy Jan was advised to keep a diary, that would help him to understand his thoughts and emotions. By recording them he could look back at them and evaluate them. Jan found out that apart from words, he could express himself very precisely by drawing and painting.
He Walked Away, 2015, acrylic on canvas
In his painting, He Walked Away, Jan depicts the warehouse where he used to work and where his depression started. The armchair represents Jan as the warehouseman. Surrounded by metal structures stacked with household goods, Jan became very upset by consummerism. The products on the shelves were not the beautiful goods from the advertising catalogues, but boring objects, often unethically produced overseas, stored in a dimly lit and cold warehouse. Jan felt hopeless, as if he were another object, destined to a short life and premature disposal. On the top of that, a nasty boss was bullying him every day.
Left: sketch of the hospital yard Right: Armchairs in Duality, 2015, coloured pencil on paper
Another artwork is called Armchairs in Duality and is much a happier scene. It documents one of Jan’s sessions at the mental health hospital. The right side of the drawing is occupied by the emphatic therapist, while on the left, there are Jan’s new, positive thoughts.
Trapped in a Shell is a self-portrait of Jan in armor, talking to the therapist. The armor represents the barrier between Jan and the members of his family. "When we speak to someone, it does not necessarily mean that our message makes it to the person," explains Jan. "The interpersonal exchange can be difficult, which can lead to alienation," he adds. Jan and his family worked hard on re-establishing the dialogue and they managed to 'break the armor' eventually.
During the therapy, Jan started to think about life in a new, positive way. Have a look. Here are some of Jan’s own quotes:
“Everything that happen in life has a meaning and every failure is a lesson from which we can learn. I understood that defeats - personal and professional – are necessary for personal development. They bring strength to the psyche."
"We should not regret the past, but welcome it, because it can teach us so much.”
“Finding balance in ourselves is the best thing we can do for the world.”
“The journey is the goal.”
“I went back to where it started, because that was where I left my heart.”
Work in progress: painting in gardens of the mental health centre