Two Julias, Běla Kolářová, and Zorka Ságlová
Last week the latter Julia and I met in person for the first time, to have lunch at quite a nice Thai restaurant in Vinohrady, Tiger Tiger. We had such a good time it was hard to tear ourselves away and get back to work.
Julia the artist and I decided to go look at art Sunday, and ended up at the Veletřní palác. Štěpanka had mentioned the Běla Kolářová show to me, and we thought that would be a good thing to see, and I had also been intrigued by tram posters for the Zorka Ságlová show.
I had never heard of Běla Kolářová prior to Štěpanka mentioning her, and as I quite like the work of her husband, Jiří Kolář, I was a little annoyed not to have heard of her before. Was this yet another example of a famous male with an overshadowed wife? I grant that in an artistic couple, both partners will not always be equally interesting, but I think that in general, if one of them is very good, the likelihood is that the other will at least be worth looking into.
This proved to be the case--Běla Kolářová is indeed worth investigating. I will not get into a debate about which artist might be "better," an exercise that is usually pointless and a matter of opinion, but we were quite taken with her work, which is generally abstract, meticulously composed, and often employs ordinary household objects like matches, paperclips, and snap fasteners. We could also see how the two artists developed and exchanged ideas together, yet produced different work.
The Zorka Ságlová show was also interesting, though we were not quite as excited about it. Ságlová initially did relatively conceptual installation pieces, and throughout her career did many abstract works in fairly bright acrylics. At a certain point she began to put images of rabbits into her work as a representation of some of their mythic and heroic attributes. As a rabbit person, I was somewhat more interested in the rabbits than in the abstractions, but I definitely liked some of the rabbit works more than others. The rabbit tapestry at the beginning of the show appealed to me quite a bit, and also the works that referred to medieval, ancient, and nonwestern art, which were often quite funny. Some of the photos also amused us.
Both exhibitions can be recommended, but personal taste will dictate the viewer's preference.