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Mikulas Medek (Czech Rep, 1926-1974) Oil Painting

Lot 0314
Mikulas Medek (Czech Republic, 1926-1974) Oil on Canvas Painting. The modern surreal 1956 oil painting draws on the artist's exceptional powerful source of imagination, sensibility and intellect. The theme of human destiny is expressed exquisitely through highly refined visual metaphors of human existence. In his lifetime, Medek's paintings were met with official disapproval under Communist Party rule, yet the artist soldiered on - painting throughout his life, until he no longer was able to. The oil on canvas painting measures 51 inches high, 63.3 inches wide. Framed with a simple wood strip frame. Signed Brezen (March) 1956 - Medek upper right. In good condition. With inspection under UV light it revealed a small area of touch up in her hair and a small one half inch by three inch touched up abrasion in front of the child's knee and some random touched up specks.

Adela Prochazkova, the granddaughter of the artist Mikulas Medek and an assistant curator at the National Gallery in Prague, has kindly contacted and informed us of the title of this painting. It is "Action II - Wool". Adela Prochazkova is assisting National Gallery curators Karel Srp, Ph.D and Lenka Bydzovska, Ph.D in preparing for the National Gallery, Prague a large exhibition and extensive catalog raisonne of all MedekÂ’s works of art. Adela Prochazkova informed us that archive records show that the "Action II - Wool" painting was sold in the 1960s to a woman who then took it to the United States. Until now, the only image available of the painting, is a black and white photograph. We have provided Adela Prochazkova, a high quality image of the "Action II - Wool" painting for the National Gallery, Prague to use in their forthcoming Medek catalog raisonne. Additionally, Adela Prochazkova has provided us with her contact information in hopes that the future new owner of the painting, will contact her regarding exhibiting the painting in the upcoming large exhibition of Medek’s work at the National Gallery in Prague. For Hi Res images of the painting, simply cut and paste the below link into your web browser. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/wlzb1d88cpfhjqc/AACleZk8x6SAmzEAOShPYty_a?dl=0

From Wikipedia: Mikulas Medek (November 3, 1926 - August 23, 1974) was a Czech painter. He was a grandson of the impressionist painter Antonin Slavicek, son of the General of the Czechoslovak Army and Catholic writer Rudolf Medek and brother of the journalist Ivan Medek. He is considered one of the most important representatives of Czech modern painting and one of the most important exponents of the post-war period. He was the husband of the photographer Emila Medkova.

During the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia, the general hostility towards modern art and free thinking clashed with his artistic independence and the spiritual dimensions of his works leading to a long lasting ban on displaying his works. The first full exhibition was realised only in 2002 in the Rudolphinum gallery in Prague. A selection of his works had been exhibited in a local gallery in Roudnice nad Labem in 1989 with no public notice. He died in Prague in August 1974.

Medek's work initially relies on the tradition of surrealism, later it brings new elements of the spiritual dimension. In 1952, he entered his "existential period" with the central theme of the human character in space, and at the turn of the 1950s and 1960s he came to abstract painting. As a result, so-called "prepared paintings" of color matter, arranged in the form of surface symbols and rationally distributed color formations have come into being. He brings the theme of the basic question of the meaning of human life directly to the color of its original image-making techniques (emails, etc.). In the last period of his life, he developed imaginative painting and also devoted himself to a book illustration. His work, thanks to non-public exhibitions (so-called "Confrontation"), became a model for younger radical artists. After 1960, Medek was allowed to realize some public monumental works, which included the altarpiece of the church in Jedovnice (1963), made together with sculptor Jan Koblasa and the compositions for the interiors of the Czechoslovak office. airlines in Damascus, Kosice (1963), Paris (1964), Prague (1969) and New York (1970). The central theme of Medek's work is the theme of human destiny, which is combined with the emotive expression of the intensive experience of the mystical character in an inwardly unified and unusually impressive whole, which speaks to the spectator with extreme urgency. Symbolism of sign systems creates special visual metaphors of human existence in its tragic, painful and mysterious dimensions.

Medek's works are largely owned by galleries (e.g. Sydney, New York, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Bochum, Bratislava, Skopje, etc.) or are contained in private collections around the world.

From Tyden.cz - November 11, 2016: Painter Virtuoso Mikulas Medek wrestled in his paintings with matter.

The paintings of Mikulas Medek were astonished by their fragility and drastic nature, at the time they were a revelation. This is why the work of an artist of the European format was expelled from Czech art life in two stages - in the 50s and in the period of normalization. It was created in the seclusion of the studio and prematurely closed in 1974. At present its paintings are auctioned in millions. Painter, graphic artist, illustrator and poet would celebrate 90th on Thursday.

"Painter's matter adds to my living tissue," Medek said. Graphic elements on his "prepared" paintings were in the form of scratches, scratches, cracks. His work was laborious and lengthy. On the surface, he laid one dense colorful layer after another and let it dry for a long time. Thanks to this, his paintings have a huge internal depth and radiate intense interior color light. He was intrigued to tell how the spatula gets into the lower layers in his paintings. He compared this act to a sexual act.

Matter was a player, an adversary, to be overcome and forced to surrender. The resulting images were then "the subject message of psychic events," as he himself said. And their names were eloquent: Magnetic Fish, Black Gambit, Seven Thorns in the Lip, Last Sleep of Big Alcohol, Furious Monstrance, Death for 21,870 fragile blue cm2, 162 cm brittle.Medek had a special relationship to the colors. Green and brown considered "spills" and "dirt". On the contrary, he loved red and blue, considered them to be absolute, most perfect. He added gold to them and said that it was like metal, blue of iron and silver, red of gold. His paintings gradually penetrated the wheels and levers, the simple machines that brought the world of technology here.

"Art is everything that is inconsistent with the immobility of reality," said Medek. His paintings also had a spiritual dimension, which made him the author of large works for the interiors of churches. The most famous of them is the altar in Jedovnice in Moravia - a bluish cross with a yellow sun in the middle. In addition, Medek also created illustrations for Brezin's poetry and a number of other books.

In the early days he painted magical figurative paintings. Between 1958 and 1964, prepared paintings were created, in which the figure was lost and the bearer of the message became colorful, "tortured" and celebrated. Later he returned to the figure and recently painted cycles: Tower designers, Angry angels, Alcohols, Inquisitors, Guests without a host, Moving graves, and more.

The life story of Mikulas Medek is a conflict of free spirit with the eternity of the time. Born on 3 November 1926 to the family of a writer, legionnaire and general Rudolf Medek, he was the grandson of the painter Antonin Slavicek. He originally wanted to study natural sciences and biology and claimed that something of a former desire was reflected in his art. After the war he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and UMPRUM by Franticek Muzika and Franticek Tichy, but in 1949 he was expelled.

When he married Emil Tlaskal in 1951, both of them were oriented to surrealism. Emil in the photographs, Nicholas in the paintings. His whole life inspired him, and he shared with her his lofty life fate.

"Nicholas was incredibly gentle and sensitive ..." said his brother, Ivan Medek. Other personalities who were coming to his studio on Janicek's waterfront also talked about the fragile humanity of the exceptional artist. It has become a kind of private cultural forum. "The conversations at Mikulas resembled adventurous expeditions - just as the theme and direction changed with a random note, and Mikulas was able to entertain royal fun, he liked to laugh," Jachym Topol told him.

"Medek was deep, but clean as a well. He immediately got me," recalled Brno poet Jiri Kubena. "An infinitely living, natural, loving, wise, gently ironic, cheerful, playful ..."Towards the end of his life the ill painter once again got to the index. He could not exhibit, the public contracts were rejected, and the monograph was forbidden. He fought his body with increased artistic creativity. He died severely ill on August 23, 1974, in a hospital on Charles Square in his early forty-eight years.

From: ceskatelevize.cz - December 15, 2018: The Roudnice Gallery of Modern Art boasts not only an excellent collection but also excellent dramaturgy - the latest proof is the current exhibition of MikulᚠMedek.It may seem that MikulᚠMedek (1926-1974) is sufficiently established on our scene, his paintings are exhibited at various exhibitions. However, his own big exhibition had the last time in Rudolfinum in 2002 and the flood broke into that. At the same time, there are isolated voices that Medka's importance should be re-evaluated because it is overestimated.The Roudnická exhibition is fortunate enough to answer both points: Firstly, it can be perceived as a complete exhibition by presenting the artist's work in its entirety. At the same time, thanks to the curatorial concept, it convincingly disproves any doubt about Medkova's place in our post-war art.Curator Miroslava Hlavá?ková could not spill more due to the space available in the Roudnice Gallery; the seeming bonding of hands turned out to be an advantage. It is not a problem to overwhelm a large space of paintings, as was the case for example last year's exhibition of Czech Impressionism - everyone can do it. However, the viewer will drown in the flood, just as the concept, if any. But to show artists in a much smaller space, and nothing to ignore, not to distract, is not just so.There is nothing, just a spike ...At first there are three Medkov's paintings from the end of the 1940s, the Infantile Landscape II (Infantile Walk) from 1947, and from 1948 the Anal Butterfly and the Wonderful Mother II . Medek works with organic motifs, and the biological-vegetative-anatomical elements are similar to the older generation of František Janoušek.It is definitely the composition of the composition to feel the symbiotic link with the creation of Medka's wife Emily, whose pictures from that time we also see eggs or eyeballs set in a seemingly inconsistent context. Was it surreal? Obviously yes, apparently not. If we want to, we can find the principle of collage in the set of "objects", but in any case, it is difficult to find, apart from the mentioned Janoušek, some parallels.From the beginning of the 1950s, the reality of the Cold War, Stalin's terror, timelessness, and the loss of perspective began to flow into images - not only the color of the works but also the content. Thus, from the paintings of Cranachov nad?írik with the imperialist flower (1953-1954), Scream (1954) or Hádka (1956-1957), we feel long- laden but completely manifest - external - aggression and threats. For example, Screaming is a totally different expression than the famous Munch's Scream . The seemingly calm blue-gray background is the richer, deformed and significantly reduced red figure, the face protruding from itself - and there is nothing behind the blue "window". Only threatening, guarding spikes ...In later paintings such as Sleeping IV (Sleepy Sleep) of 1957 or Naked Thornsof the same year, gradual motifs and geometrization of motifs are taking place. At the same time, they turn color into red or blue, and then add further color accents. It starts with the peak of the Median period - if it can be hierarchized at all.Medek reduces the characters, and not only is, for the austere geometric formations, the canvas is full of wounding, aggression, penetration - both in content and in the painting gesture. Physical attacks point to images, we see different blades, spikes, chisels - such as the two Inquisitors (1965) or The View of Men in Voltage (1967). He has spikes and some kind of "machine" in his head ... By the way, the inquisitors are to be the historians of František Šmejkal and V?ra Linhartová.(Surrealist)He talks about Medzk's surrealism - he was certainly close to him, especially before, but he never considered the Surrealist, and in later years the rigid surrealist group would certainly not tolerate church decorations, altar painting. It is therefore interesting to compare two paintings: The Monster Who Wants to Live Lively / V. Effenberger (1965) and The Attempt on the Portrait of J. Ch. (1967). Regardless of the fact that the name of the first oil comes from Medk's poem from 1951, we see a stylized head on it, with three eyes, the whole of which is gloomy, fuzzy, dark. The light blue "figure", that is, critic and art historian Jind?ich Chalupecký, on the other oil is, on the contrary, anchored in a wide crotch, bent, but evolving personality, rising to a higher level.It is hard to tell how the work of Medka would develop, but he died relatively young. Even so, he left behind a work worth the respect. It serves the honor of the Roudnice Gallery to remind Nicolas Medka again. It is also worth mentioning a carefully prepared catalog with many Medkov quotes that create the overall impression. And if you want to make a pleasant trip, take the Roudnice Gallery of Modern Art and the current exhibition of Nicholas Medko as a good tip. Exhibit Ends February 10, 2019.

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Mikulas Medek (Czech Rep, 1926-1974) Oil Painting

Estimate $100,000 - $200,000Feb 17, 2019
St. Petersburg, FL, USA