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House of Art
TUES–SUN 10.00–18.00

Bednář, Daniel / Prague cemetery

2005–2018

acrylic, canvas, 180×150 cm

With its mysterious iconography, this painting encourages dark shades of reading. The dominant feature is the vanishing-point of two high walls which create a psychological barrier, a corridor which is the scene of an anxious drama. The actors are a naked man, shackled and writhing on the ground, and an ape, confronting the man with an expressive grimace. The ape with a halo refers to deviousness, slyness, intrigue and power games, which in our society are played out under the cover of morally and ethically respected institutions – formerly the Church, and nowadays politics. The symbols of the wall and the ape – which represent captivity, anxiety and the dark sides of the human soul – resonate critically with allusions to life under totalitarian regimes (such as the Berlin Wall, or the Czech poet Vladimír Holan’s line “Fifteen years I talked to a wall”), yet we can also see traces of the painter’s own personal traumas, related to family life and the inability to exist as free beings. The fluid white figure stepping out of the background may be a symbol of hope, the light at the end of a tunnel; it is an existential force that brings balance to the painting (while also referring to the famous line by the Czech underground band Plastic People: “We live in Prague, that’s where one day the Spirit himself will appear”). The pottery fragments making up the fractured figure of an angel, glued into the surface of the canvas, represent a direct reference to the title of the painting, as they did indeed originate in a Prague cemetery.

BEDNÁŘ DANIEL

(1969, Opava) Painter. He studied under Daniel Balabán at the University of Ostrava’s Art Department (1999–2005). He lives and works in Ostrava. His works are represented in the collection of the National Gallery in Prague and the Richard Adam collection. He has been exhibiting (both solo and as part of group exhibitions) since 2000. Bednář’s works explore a depersonalized world full of dark recesses. Sometimes this darkness is projected into nightmarish urban scenery, sometimes into raw landscapes captured in wild brushstrokes and expressive colours. Bednář often works with figures, though these often become deformed and degraded. One of the most characteristic aspects of Bednář’s imagination is the notion of weight and heavy burdens. In his canvases he does not restrict himself to painting; sometimes he adds textual elements whose form resembles that of graffiti tags, and at other times materials of various origin are assembled and attached to the surface of the painting. Bednář’s works are imbued with a subliminal critique of social or societal phenomena, such as the excess of masculine or feminine energy in relation to the opposite sex. His landscapes include depictive elements that we could perceive as clues to reading the works, yet they immediately disintegrate and become lost among the indeterminate meanings of the compositional entity. And so Bednář’s paintings confront us with a visual mystery: our eyes are drawn into them readily, but deciphering the images represents a greater challenge.
acrylic, canvas, 150 × 180 cm
2011

Bednář, Daniel / Field

Axentowicz, Theodor / Girl in a fur

Axentowicz, Theodor / Girl in a fur

undated
Balabán, Daniel / Concrete (Below a Slag-Heap)

Balabán, Daniel / Concrete (Below a Slag-Heap)

1983
Balabán, Daniel / Old Eroticism

Balabán, Daniel / Old Eroticism

1996
Bartoš, Břetislav / Wallachian Madonna

Bartoš, Břetislav / Wallachian Madonna

1921
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