Zdeněk Sýkora / Colour and Space
Olomouc, 13. 5. - 12. 9. 2010

The exhibition in the Olomouc Museum of Art directly follows from the retrospective of the oeuvre of Zdeněk Sýkora in the City Gallery Prague, while supplementing it with a specific, more focused view of his work. The relationship between colour and space, the angle through which we attempt our observation of this artistic legacy, is the central theme of Zdeněk Sýkora’s painting from the 1950s onward, when he gradually achieved the realisation that to engage in truly contemporary art meant to assume a new role in the creative process and create a more objectively defined basis for future work. Thus he became, as early as the 1960s, part of a wider international current of new tendencies opposing romanticism and excessive subjectivity in favour of new developments in human knowledge and social thought; assuming an unbiased, systematic investigation of specific phenomena and gradually presenting entirely new solutions as well as methods of work, reacting to the need for the adequate capturing of what this new human experience had as its base.

Zdeněk Sýkora contributed to the newly emerging syntax of the language of art with his original conception of the relation between colour and shape. From the laws of the basic means of expression, which he discovered primarily through the paintings of Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse, he himself arrived at a new system that allowed him to move, as the author, into the background, and primarily to formulate a new pictorial conception. Thanks to a system founded on combinations, he was able to construct, in an objective manner, a space for his structural paintings out of the relations between the base units, to have the painterly process entirely under control. At the start, he merely set particular conditions, boundaries in which he allowed highly complex, autonomous actions free rein. Solution of even more complex combinatory tasks arising from the ‘programmed’ relations was furthered by the use, after the mid-Sixties, of a computer. Sýkora’s structures, and the lines that later developed out of them, are a highly contemporary synthesis of inspirations, arising from the very basis of modern painting along with the capabilities of the latest technology.

The exhibition and its catalogue do not follow the theme of colour and space in the wider theoretical context, or the context of international developments, but tend to stress a number of internal coherences within Sýkora’s oeuvre. The theme is addressed from several angles: first of all, the specific artistic solutions to the pictorial space in the Structures and Lines, in other words the painter’s body of work from the past fifty years; a second area of interest is the group of objects from the 1960s and 1970s, last presented to such an extent only at the retrospective in Brno in the late 1980s; while the last theme is that of the ‘irregular formats’, specific spatial concepts on the border between the painting and the object.

Pavel Kappel, 2010

Zdeněk Sýkora / Colour and Space

Olomouc Museum of Art, Olomouc
13. 5 - 12. 9. 2010
Exhibition theme and catalogue text: Pavel Kappel