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Mikuláš Medek (1926–1974)


mixed media (oil, enamel) on canvas
signed on the reverse
80 × 60 cm
Estimate: 3,000,000 CZK - 5,000,000 CZK
Starting price: 2,500,000 CZK
Current price:
3,000,000 CZK

Mikuláš Medek was an internationally recognised pioneer of art informel and one of the most prominent representatives of the Czech post-war art scene. The presented work entitled Birbds comes from his mature creative period of the second half of the 19\60s and reflects, from the artist’s point of view, the absolute necessity to transfer one’s feelings to the surface of the canvas. In addition to oil paints, he soon began to use email, which enabled him to intervene more brutally in the substance of the painting. At this time, perhaps more than at any other time, the urgency of his feelings connected not only with the social and political events of the time but also with his deteriorating mental and physical condition was evident in Medek’s canvases.

The metallic blue composition dates from 1967 when Medek visited Genoa, and at the same time, Leonardo’s Madrid sketchbooks, full of his technical projects, were discovered. After the purely structural abstractions from the cycle of “prepared paintings”, elements of figuration began to return to Medek’s work in the form of mechanical elements – levers, wheels, and spinning machines. The presented work is also one of the first paintings depicting his favourite motif of birds, which he freely developed until his premature death. The central shape is a square head on a thin leg, in the core of which we see a kind of clockwork and “golden birds” known, for example, from Medek’s next cycle of angels, which symbolically closed his life’s work.

On the reverse side of the canvas, there is the artist’s inscription with his signature, the title and date. Assessed during consultations by prof. J. Zemina and PhDr. E. Kosáková-Medková, art historian and the artist’s daughter. From the attached expertise of PhDr. K. Srp: “[…] The painting, the title of which is a corruption of the word “birds”, is a substantial reflection of two experiences that Medek connected in his work. On the one hand, Leonardo, in whom his interest increased in 1967; on the other hand, Max Ernst, who has long been one of his greatest role models. […]”