DATE OF THE EXHIBITION: 13. 06. - 27. 11. 2021

EXHIBITION OPENING: 12. 06. 2021 FROM 17:00



The sculptors Eva Kmentová and Olbram Zoubek are two exceptional artistic individuals, both of whom have become icons of Czech and European sculpture of the second half of the 20th century. Each in their way responded to, determined, or presaged important trends in contemporary art. Both created distinctive sculptures in which an important role was played by man, his place in the world and in his era, and the innermost experience of human existence.

Kmentová and Zoubek were members of the young postwar generation that no longer wanted to live in the shadow of the tragic events of the Second World War and sought to break free from the ideological limitations of a Stalinist regime that imposed rigid rules on artistic creation. A common denominator around the world at the time was the yearning for freedom in the sense of self-determination for the individual and for larger groups of people. Similarly, there was a strong sense for the need to take responsibility for all of one’s deeds, as expressed among other things by the need for artistic freedom and creative expression. Somewhere along the line, there was born a profound faith in people that characterized a certain segment of Czech art from the 1960s at least all the way to the Velvet Revolution. 

Eva Kmentová and Olbram Zoubek were classmates in professor Josef Wagner’s unusually inspirational course at Prague’s Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design. They married shortly after graduation and became lifelong partners. Their marital bond, partnership, and friendship formed an important source of strength as they explored their artistic paths and served as a defense against the demagoguery of the totalitarian era. 

This exhibition is the first joint showing by these two artists. It shows the manner in which they absorbed the same impulses and sources of mutual inspiration, as well as the different paths they followed. The focus is on the period from the late 1950s until the early 1980s, i.e., from their time at the Academy until Kmentová’s death, which led to a certain change in Zoubek’s creative journey. 

The title of the exhibition was inspired by a statement made by the censors when they had Zoubek’s Shot to Death, Kmentová’s Lovers, and Preclík’s No removed from a 1959 exhibition by the Trasa art group at Prague’s Mladá Fronta Gallery: “In their artistic interpretation of man with his distorted proportions, they insult human dignity” – a statement that is made all the more paradoxical by the fact that the work of Eva Kmentová and Olbram Zoubek is an homage to and celebration of human existence.

Helena Musilová


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