Zdeněk Sýkora, Photographer 1937–1945
Karlovy Vary, 22. 9. – 20. 11. 2016


Z d e n ě k  S ý k o r a , P h o t o g r a p h e r  1 9 3 7 – 1 9 4 5

The book focuses on an as yet unexplored chapter in the work of artist Zdeněk Sýkora(1920–2011), a world-renowned exponent of Neo-Constructivism and the painter of Structuresand Lines: his remarkable photographs from the period of the Nazi occupation. Thesignificance of these photographs has been uncovered only recently, as Sýkora neglectedthe maintenance of his early work and even self-critically destroyed most of the Surre alisminfluencedpaintings he made during the war. Fortunately, a selection of his photographsescaped this fate. Through research in the Lenka and Zdeněk Sýkora Archive, RegionalMuseum in Louny, State Regional Archive in Louny and other private collections and estates,enough original materials and information have been gathered to reconstruct a photographicpreface to Sýkora’s painting career.From his very beginnings Zdeněk Sýkora was fascinated with landscape and naturethemes. Jaromír Funke, who exhibited an extensive series of photographs of Louny and itssurroundings in which he applied the principles of New Objectivity, provided Sýkora withdirection in contemplating contemporary approaches. Sýkora processed and developedthe model Funke set out in photographs dealing with the subject of his hometown andwent on to enjoy success in the Louny Club of Amateur Photographers (he won a competitionand participated in an exhibition in 1942 and figured significantly in the club’s 1943photo album). He also responded to stimuli from alternative culture, especially Surrealism,a movement subscribed to by a local community of young people around Kamil Linhartand under the intellectual leadership of librarian Jaroslav Janík. Zdeněk Sýkora contributedphotographs to his contemporaries’ original books, especially working with Linhart ona uniq ue poetography book titled Někam jít (Going Somewhere), which is a primary exampleof the genre. In it, Sýkora masterfully applied photomontage (layering two negatives overeach other into an enlarger and exposing them at the same time), a technique he had earlierused to create photo compositions to accompany poems by Czech and internationalpoets ranging from Vladimír Holan to the Comte de Lautréamont. Sýkora’s photographs ofabandoned Baroque sculptures and broken pieces, which he and Vladislav Mirvald arrangedinto various revived configurations, represents another original set of works.Zdeněk Sýkora fotografem is divided into two sections. The first analyses and interpretsSýkora’s early photography in the context of the period, while the second section providesa detailed biography from the time of his birth up until 1945, when he started to studypainting. It is based on the artist’s own memoirs and supplemented by thorough researchof the sources, capturing the circumstances under which this exceptional artist came intobeing.

Zdeněk Sýkora, Photographer 1937–1945

Karlovy Vary, Interaktivní galerie Becherova vila, Galerie umění KV
22. 9. - 20. 11. 2016
Curators: Lenka Bydžovská, Lenka Sýkorová

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