Zapletal, Alois / Ploughman
oil, canvas, 150 × 105 cm
purchased 2019 with the support of the Czech Ministry of Culture
This is an authentic and original collection of works by the painter Alois Zapletal, showcasing the full range of his oeuvre – from religious themes to social topics, still lifes and portraits – and also, despite the collection’s compact size, managing to represent the key periods in Zapletal’s career between 1920 and 1940. The collection was taken direct from the painter’s posthumous estate; the opportunity to select works from his studio made it possible to assemble a comprehensive collection of items from Zapletal’s most important creative periods in order to give representative coverage of his entire oeuvre.
Zapletal’s work encompassed a number of different styles. After the First World War he painted in the spirit of the (already fading) symbolist movement, creating mainly figural compositions with religious themes; he also returned to these themes in his later creative period with works such as Golgotha (1935) or Christ (1938). He then gradually integrated elements of the Neue Sachlichkeit into his work, especially in his paintings with social themes. Among his key works of this period – which are comparable with similar works in Czech social art and also reveal the influence of the Neue Sachlichkeit – is the Ostrava Trilogy, from which two paintings (Poverty in Ostrava and Sadness in Ostrava, 1922) were acquired by the gallery in 2015. Another important canvas from this period is Ostrava / Red Madonna, which was widely exhibited at the time. Much of Zapletal’s work consists of canvases expressing poetic moods – such as Under the Apple Tree (1924) and By the Water (1933) – or depicting the people and landscapes of the Ostrava region (We Plough After the Harvest, 1941–1942, Accordion Player with Friends, undated). Alois Zapletal painted a number of self-portraits, exemplified by a work from 1937. He also painted his own face in the canvas Saint Sebastian (undated). In addition to their distinctive subjects and forms, most of the works in the collection are large in size – which is not an entirely typical feature of Zapletal’s oeuvre.