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Zdeněk Sklenář

Dawn

oil on canvas
1946
signed
80 x 74 cm
Estimate: 7,000,000 CZK - 10,000,000 CZK
Starting price: 4,000,000 CZK
Hammer price:
7,600,000 CZK

This remarkable painting is an exceptionally rare example of the artist’s early and high-quality period, anticipating the creative peak of his work. Magical abstractions based on the aesthetics of East Asian characters, which he developed after his trip to China in 1955, were actually preceded by a fragile and sometimes even naïve art style, which, however, was marked by strong sensitivity and dreaminess. Although Sklenář never fully identified himself with surrealism, poeticism, or artificialism, his reflection of these progressive European movements is more than obvious. The zoomorphic shapes of snakes, birds, and unidentifiable creatures create an immensely vivid composition. It probably reflects the difficult times of the Second World War supplemented with destructive and animal instincts unleashed, and the struggle between light and darkness, good and evil. In addition, the dynamic character of Dawn is enhanced by strong, rich, glowing dark colours and red highlights. The exceptionality and attractiveness of this painting is increased by the fact that it has only been kept in two private collections since its execution, one of them being the collection of František Muzika, the then professor of Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, to whom Sklenář gave it in 1946 after he joined the Academy as an assistant.

The painting was exhibited at the artist’s solo exhibition at Vilímek Gallery (22 October – 14 November 1948, cat. No. 21) and collective exhibitions at SVU Mánes (Generation of Mánes, April 1947, cat. No. 255), Aleš South Bohemian Gallery in Hluboká nad Vltavou (Imaginative Art 1930–1950, March–April 1964, cat. No. 66), and in Lucerne (Moderne Kunst der Tschechoslowakei, 20. 7. – 7. 9. 1947, cat. No. 50). It is reproduced in the artist’s monograph (F. Šmejkal: Zdeněk Sklenář, Prague 1984, cat. No. 54) and in the book Czech Imaginative Art (F. Šmejkal, Prague 1996, p. 358). On the reverse, there is a stamp from the exhibition at Mánes in 1947, a stamp from the Exhibition of Czechoslovak Art in Lucerne, and the artist’s inscription to František Muzika. Assessed during consultations by prof. J. Zemina and Z. Sklenář, the artist’s nephew. The expertise by PhDr. K. Srp is attached.