<h1>Mikuláš Medek</h1>
<h1>Mikuláš Medek</h1>
<h1>Mikuláš Medek</h1>

With the retrospective exhibition of the work of Mikuláš Medek (1926 – 1974), held under the auspices of Václav Havel, President of the Czech Republic, Galerie Rudolfinum aims to continue its exhibition project devoted to the most significant personalities of the Czech visual arts in the 20th century, those directly responsible for shaping the course of its development. And it is precisely such a figure as Mikuláš Medek – not merely for the drama of his oeuvre and his life, but equally as the moral example of an artist continually striving for creative freedom in an age hostile to modern art and intellectual liberty – that deserves to occupy a leading position in Czech cultural history of the postwar years.

After twelve years, the opportunity has once again arisen in Prague to recall – or, for the younger generation, to present for the first time – a truly accurate sense of the extent and variety of Medek’s oeuvre through the display of a unique ensemble of around 150 paintings. Forming and accumulating across three decades, this work is drawn from the exceptionally powerful sources of the imagination, sensibility, and intellectual resources of its author. This uninterrupted creative activity, calling forth each painting’s message through the “language” of an exquisite, highly refined, and richly structured painting expression, did not slacken in intensity even towards the end of its creator’s life, ever more harshly afflicted with severe illness and a new outbreak of official disapproval of his work (continuing for years even after its author’s death).


Medek’s paintings are pervaded with the theme of human destiny: they consider all fates as one great, internally cohesive whole and speak to them with startling urgency. In complex structures of signification and ambiguously multifarious symbols, Mikuláš Medek constructs original visual metaphors for humanity’s existence, in its tragic yet equally grotesque, absurd, painful, and secretive dimensions. The thematic depth and the expressive force of line and colouration here form an indissoluble entity, giving the impression that Medek’s paintings have arisen as a rare and magical revelation of the painting craft and the creative spirit.


The mission of the exhibition was to transmit this twofold artistic message to the contemporary context of what is seen and felt, through a selection focusing in particular on Medek’s oil paintings. In addition to well-known canvases from the permanent collections of Czech galleries, this was documented by many significant works held privately, many of them never previously put on display. As well, the ensemble was further enriched by works being sent to Prague for the first time from public collections abroad (Bochum, Bratislava, Leinfelden, Rotterdam, Skopje) and private owners who frequently acquired them directly from the author during his lifetime. Galerie Rudolfinum would hence like to express its thanks to all the private collectors, as well as all the galleries and museums in the Czech Republic or abroad, for their assistance in the realisation of the exhibit.


The exhibition was held under the auspices of Václav Havel, President of the Czech Republic.
Exhibition was closed untimely on August 11, 2002 because of flood.

Curator: Antonín Hartman

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