Otakar Slavík, The Joy of Painting
Otakar Slavík (1931 – 2010) is one of the artists who, in the 1960s, re-introduced Czech art into the European context. He is sometimes associated with the movement of New Figuration, but his particular brand of figuration is connected with a background in sculpting, his studies at the sculpting and stonemasonry school in Hořice, and particularly with his deep, lifelong fascination with the human form. After his studies, he formed relationships with artists who were part of the strong generation of the sixties. A basic component of his work was always color, but he also explored issues of structure and order in paintings, which were reflected in the pictoral scheme. In a tragic turn of events, he was forced to emigrate after signing the Charter 77, moving to Vienna with his wife in 1980.
No matter the subject of his paintings, color is the bearer of meaning, the medium of joy, but also of existential anxiety and, after his emigration, expresses the pain of losing his home. The paintings emanate their existential foundation and color always remains Slavík´s interpreter. The pieces selected for this exhibit come from the final epoch of Slavík´s work, the first decade of the new millennium. These last paintings represent the climax of his infatuation with color, from which a suggestion of a figure may emerge along with a hint of the space in which he lived and worked. Most importantly, these painting are dominated by the joy of painting, an intoxication with color.