Mikuláš Medek, Naked in the Thorns I, 1954

Mikuláš Medek: Naked in the Thorns

The retrospective exhibition of the painter Mikuláš Medek is among the most extensive shows at the National Gallery Prague. In addition to the Waldstein Riding School, which presents the autonomous part of Medek’s paintings from the beginning to the end of his career, Medek’s works for the churches in Jedovnice, Kotvrdovice, and Senetářov are together exhibited in the Convent of Saint Agnes for the first time ever. Medek’s large works for Czechoslovak Airlines are displayed in the Trade Fair Palace.

The exhibition is more than just evaluating Medek’s works in retrospect. It is expanded by the artist’s previously unknown artworks and films discovered in his estate, the works of the artists who influenced him and with whose art he dealt (Toyen, Dalí, Teige), and the works of his contemporaries whom he befriended and collaborated with in art exhibitions (Sekal, Istler, Koblasa, Piesen, and Boudník).

During his short life, Mikuláš Medek (1926⁠–⁠1974) produced a large painting oeuvre that made a substantial shift, starting with his early Expressionist and Cubist works, passing through his original understanding of Surrealism and Existentialism to an expression called art informel, which touched upon abstraction, to eventually return to figuration. He developed his own philosophical concept of a painting as ‘a view of the view’ that helped him absorb Mannerism and employ original architectural morphology toward the end of his life. The depth of his artistic expression, the broadness of his artistic scope, and the ability to generalise the variable feelings of the time rates him among the most illustrious Czech painters. He always took his own path; his attitude was strong enough to resist the various artistic and social pressures of the time.
The curators Lenka Bydžovská and Karel Srp designed the entire project. The architect Lukáš Machalický is behind the exhibition’s unique solution, developing new possibilities of installation, and Štěpán Malovec and Kristina Ambrozová made the graphic design.

Place: Waldstein Riding School, Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia, Trade Fair Palace
Authors: Lenka Bydžovská, Karel Srp
Curator: Michal Novotný

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