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František Hudeček (1909–1990) : Drawings and Graphics from the 1940s

National Gallery Prague – Trade Fair Palace (Národní galerie Praha – Veletržní palác), Dukelských hrdinů 47, Praha 7 - Holešovice, 170 00

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  • Tue 2. 10. 2018 – Sun 31. 3. 2019

Having graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts, Architecture and Design (František Kysela‘ studio), Hudeček‘s artistic style developed through contact with Toyen and Štyrský. He joined exhibitions at the E. F. Burian Theatre and the ones organised by the Umělecká beseda (Czech Artists Forum). Another important influence on his oeuvre was Skupina 42 (Group 42), a collective founded on the need to newly articulate the unique perception of everyday situations, emotions and experiences by the urban individual in the constricting atmosphere of the Protectorate era. Ideologically, it took departure from the tradition of Czech inter-war art, and it joined Hudeček’s friends and colleagues whom he had known since the 1930s. Besides visual artists (František Gross, František Hudeček, Kamil Lhoták, Jan Kotík, Jan Smetana, Karel Souček, Bohumír Matal, Ladislav ZívrMiroslav Hák), the group also included poets (Ivan Blatný, Jiřina Hauková, Josef Kainar, Jiří Kolář, Jan Hanč) and cultural theorists (Jindřich Chalupecký, Jiří Kotalík).

During the 1940s, the character of Hudeček’s work shifted from adapting models toward conceptual originality.T hese were evocations from the meditative and exhilarating nocturnal wandering through the streets of Prague, preceded by drawings of dream visions, memories and metaphysical monuments. Besides employing surrealist techniques such as frottage and ‘cadavre exquis’ collective drawing, Hudeček most frequently made use of pencil, charcoal or pen and ink. He distinctively combined the image of the nocturnal walker in a lightless city over against the background of a glowing universe in a poetic and melancholic vision that he often interlaced with rays of energy. He found a vast number of variants for his walker silhouette, earning him the epithet ‘The Son of Night’ from Jiří Kolář. The figure became his signature, from minimalist simplicity to intricate weaves of lines, from plastic shapes to abstraction. Hudeček also transposed his urge to draw the solitary night-time city walker into graphical form in a number of etches, lithographic prints and dryprints.

Curator: Zuzana Novotná

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