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Zdeněk Sýkora works retrospective open in Prague

Zdeněk Sýkora works retrospective open in Prague
“Linie” by Zdeněk Sýkora

Zdeněk Sýkora who turned 90 last month is undoubtedly one of the most well-known modern Czech artists. During his long career he evolved from traditional landscapes to abstract painting which made him famous. Retrospective of some of his most prominent works recently opened in the Municipal Library in Prague, the renowned venue right in the centre of the Czech capitol where art exhibitions take place.

The exhibition’s curator and art historian Pavel Kappel told to a correspondent: “At first, he was truly a landscape painter. He started to paint landscapes in the 1950s, when he was studying at the Pedagogical Faculty at Charles University, influenced by his teacher Martin Salcman. After that, his painting gradually developed into geometrical shapes and expression in the ‘60s. He evolved his system intuitively, following not only the example of his teacher Martin Salcman but the modernist painters Cezanne and Matisse.”

During 1960s Sýkora’s paintings evolved into geometrical abstractions which he used to call Structures. The artist widely used numerals and math systems for arranging visual elements on the canvas and also for determening their frequency and mutual relations. Once, by chance, Sýkora met his high-school classmate who became a matematician and had an access to one of the two existing in the Czech Republic computers. Thus, in 1964 he became the first artist to use computer for making calculations while thinking over his new painting.

As Mr. Kappel explained, the computer was just a tool, like a brush. It facilitated the process of calculating mutual reletionships between elements of painting. Earlier this process was intuitive only, it was made completely in painter’s head. And it always left a chance of making a mistake. Besides, this preliminary stage could take too much time.

Throughout 1970s the artist’s slyle became more rigid, but all the same Sýkora didn’t give up his systematic approach, though he tried to add an element of randomness to his works. The most symbolic proof of his recognition became the purchase of his 1984 painting "Line 24” (also known as " The Last Judgment") by Georges Pompidou Centre located in Paris. Earlier only one Czech artist – namely Frantíšek Kupka – was represented in its collection.

The above mentioned painting is also displayed in the framework of Zdeněk Sýkora 90 exhibition, because Pompidou Centre kindly agreed to "lease" this piece of art for a while. The retrospective will last in the Prague’s Municipal Library until May 2, 2010

Image: “Linie” by Zdeněk Sýkora, 1995 (

Date: 15/03/2010

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