Jiří Kolář. JK: stands for beauty

 curated by Mauro Stefanini

Sismondo Castle piazza Malatesta, April 28th – July 15th 2018 

Jiří Kolář was born in 1914 in Protivìn in Bohemia. In 1922, he moved to Kladno near Prague. After an adolescence marked by a series of casual jobs, he discovered, at the age of sixteen, the Czech edition of “Les mots en liberté futuristes” by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, which transported him into the world of modern poetry, fundamental to his future artistic experimentation. Thanks to his encounter with Surrealism, he began working with collage. In 1937, he exhibited for the first time at the Mozarteum in Prague. In 1941, during German occupation, his first collection of poetry was published, and the following year he founded the “Group 42” with other artists. Between 1946 and 1948 he travelled to Paris, Germany and Great Britain and a few years later The “liver of Prometheus” (1952) was published, in which he used a combination of imagery, poetry and prose to report the dramatic situation in Czechoslovakia after the establishment of the communist regime; a harsh truth which together with other writings cost him a nine month prison sentence and a publication ban until 1964. Near the late Sixties, he exhibited in Germany and in Brazil, where in 1969 he won first prize at the X Sao Paulo Biennial, then in Canada and in Japan. In ‘75, ‘78 and ‘85 the Guggenheim R. Solomon Museum in New York hosted three important solo exhibitions (Kolář and Picasso are the only artists who, while still living, had the honour of three solo exhibitions at New York’s Guggenheim), followed by many other exhibitions all over the world. In 1983, he completed the “Dictionary of Methods”, a collection of all the techniques used to realise his works: collage, ventilage, chiasmage, confrontage, etc. His artworks can be found in the world’s leading galleries.

In 1991, he received the Seifert Prize and was named an honorary citizen of Prague, where he died in August 2002. In 2012 took place an important retrospective held at MOCAK in Krakow, whereas, in 2014, an anthological exhibition was held at the Kunstforum ostdeutsche Galerie in Regensburg, Germany and at the Museum Kampa, in Prague.

The following year a solo exhibition with more than 160 works was dedicated to him at the Galleria Open Art and at the Museum of Wall Painting in Prato.