PAVEL ŠMÍD / Rituals
The opening will take place on Tuesday 19 September at 5 p.m.
The painter and scenographer Pavel Šmíd studied at the Secondary School of Applied Arts in Prague from 1979 to 1982. In the 1980s he became associated with the Ostrava-based artists in the group The Natural Ones (1989–1992). From the middle of the decade, these artists came to play an important role in Czechoslovakia’s unofficial art scene. In 1990–1997 Šmíd studied at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts, attending the studio of Professor Jiří Sopko. He continued to live in Prague after graduating.
Pavel Šmíd’s evolution as an artist illustrates a typical path taken by the generation that grew up under communism and reached adulthood around the time of the 1989 Velvet Revolution. Typical characteristics of these artists were their fear, timidity and lack of self-confidence, combined with futile defiance and rebellion against their subordination and forced obedience (On obedience, 2019). At the same time, they were the last generation who had direct family ties to the Second World War (and in some cases both world wars) and the societal upheavals of the second half of the 20th century.
Family photographs (Birthday, 2019) and propaganda images from old newspapers were a rich source of inspiration for Šmíd’s work. Rather than performing a documentary or illustrative function, these works enabled him to explore the elementary essence of his themes (Skier, 2023).
Šmíd’s paintings typically feature ambiguous figures, a striking use of colour, and a vital gestural quality – as well as showing human actions with intense immediacy. The colour pattern is often an impenetrable cipher, and the effect of the hidden absurd reality is shocking (Garland festival; Grandstands, 2020). Ironic undertones and apparent harshness are interspersed with a fragile story made up of fragments from everyday life, as moments of happiness give way to tragic connotations evoking threats to humanity and human existence (Great Expectations, 2022).
The exhibition Rituals encompasses a wide spectrum of Šmíd’s themes – children, people exploited by propaganda, in contrast to physical intimacy. The unifying element is the artist’s search for a connection between visual art, philosophy and anthropology. His paintings strive to depict humans as ontological beings; specific situations or stories are elevated to the level of humanity as a whole, becoming symbols of human activity and human life. Pavel Šmíd paints a picture of 20th-century life with all its imaginary rituals and great illusions.
Curator: Renata Skřebská
Text: Renata Skřebská
Translation: Christopher Hopkinson
Graphic design: Katarína Jamrišková
Promotion: Jana Malášek Šrubařová, Magdaléna Staňková
Educational programmes: Jana Sedláková, Zuzana Grulichová