Václav Špála / Two Women at the Waterside
Bathing is a frequent theme in Cubism. Paul Cézanne used it as a subject and his paintings with large groups of figures at the waterside foreshadowed the figural compositions of Pablo Picasso, André Derain and Georges Braque. In common with Emil Filla, Bohumil Kubišta, Antonín Procházka, Josef Čapek and Vincenc Beneš, Špála made use of the opportunity to depict the naked human figure in a natural setting. Špála’s Two Women at the Waterside is rightly considered an inestimable artistic treasure. Of modest dimensions, it used only three colours. Together with red symbolising the scorching heat of summer, tanned bodies and yearning, the artist opted for a complementary blue and green setting. This evokes cool water, the summer sky and green trees. In accordance with Cubist principles the picture is composed almost entirely of straight lines, sharp angles and a precise assembly of artistic elements. The fact that they are arranged as a mosaic of geometric shapes in a regular network, forces one to reflect on the structure of the painting. Cool rationality is balanced by the energy of the conflicting colours suggesting the sparkling water and the comforting shade of the trees in summer.