Thursday, May 31, 2007

Life Is a Dream, Part II

The Jan Zrzavý show at Waldstein takes dreams in a different and (possibly) more palatable direction than Neo Rauch. Still, like Rauch, Zrzavý will appeal strongly to some viewers and annoy others. I happen to like his work overall, but decidedly some works more than others.
Zrzavý devoted considerable time to the Cleopatra theme, which resulted in quite a few paintings and drawings, but with my apologies to the artist, I can't say these works are among my favorites.

Zrzavý did a fair number of book illustrations, many of which are quite enchanting. This one is for the Mácha's Romantic-era poem Maj (a work that even with my non-literary level of Czech comes across beautifully, although it helps to have read a translation first).

I'm also rather partial to the painting Girlfriends and some of the other works with a similar moody palette.

I have a special fondness for the Exotic Dance from 1908. I don't generally care greatly for works of this sort--imagery of multiple bathers and nude dancers in nature was rife around 1900 and I tend to feel I have seen way too many of them, but I like those that depart from the arcadian norm, which this one certainly does.

Zrzavý's early self-portraits also get my stamp of great approval. It is hard to imagine what other teenaged artist, even during the fin-de siecle, would have portrayed himself quite like this. Zrzavý's Antichrist (in the show and usually on display at the Veletržní palác) is also something of a self portrait. Unfortunately I couldn't find an image of it.

For more on Zrzavý:
A brief English-language description of the show
One can also see Zrzavý's work while visiting Telč, where there's an entire gallery devoted to him.

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Blogger Princess Haiku said...

This is a great post; really enjoyed it.

June 02, 2007 9:07 AM  

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