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Freedom to Create

(This article expired 20.05.2014 / 08:42.)

Date: 08 September 2011 9:00 AM - 31 December 2011, Venue: Gallery Litvak, Museum Tower, 4 Berkovitz St., Tel Aviv

The exhibition of Czech Glass School will go through Sep 8th – Dec 31. The artists, who will present their works in the exhibition “The Freedom to Create”, representing the different schools, are: Elias Bohumil, Stanislav Libensky, Vaclav Machac, Dana Zamecnikova, Marian Volrab, Vladimir Kopecky,  Jaroslav Matous, Jirina Zertova, Jaromir Rybak, Zora Palova, Stepan Pala, Gizela Shabokova, Vladimira Klumperova, Jan Exnar, Vaclav Cigler. The curators of the exhibition are: Ivo Kajan and Molly Litvak.

The Freedom to Create – the victory of Czech art reflected in Tel Aviv

When the communist rule in the Czech Republic oppressed artists who were not conscripted, the glass artists flourished because nobody understood the message behind their art. Ironically, the ignorance of the government saved them and allowed them to prosper.

The power of expression and the longing for freedom are reflected in 60 glass pieces of 15 leading Czech artists from the period of the communist rule, presenting their art at the Litvak Gallery in Tel Aviv, between the dates 8.9.2011-31.12.2011.

Horses and boxers in a black room of mirrors, legendary sea creatures and an inner space connecting to an outer space through bridges and giant glass sculptures – put the viewer in a world where spirit and inspiration win over politics.

“Imagine a communist world, where all artistic freedom is examined and censured, where painters and sculptures are only allowed to create in order to promote the regime. In this world, a limited number of artists find a way to express their feelings and positions despite the iron curtain. These were the glass artists”- thus, the curator describes this history behind the breathtaking Czech glass works of art, which, starting from September, will be presented at Litvak Gallery, in an exhibition called “The Freedom to Create”.

Litvak Gallery, taking upon itself the mission of bringing the Israeli audience closer to the sophistication of glass art, exposes another aspect of the artistic values of this medium in a group exhibition. The heads of the Czech communist regime in the years 1948-1989 gave the Czech glass artists the freedom to create, because they were perceived as the creators of applied arts – decorative and harmless. As a regime, they did not understand that they were in fact raising an entire generation of glass artists who expressed their protest through their art.

Glass horses and legendary sea creatures

Thus, glass art flourished in the Czech Republic, and expanded to a monumental scale, receiving international recognition as a leader in its field. The powerful variety and inspiration can be attributed to the next part of this fascinating series of historical events – after the government prohibited all art that did not serve the communist regime, while, at the same time, encouraging glass artists, who had brought honor to the country, various artists began to ‘immigrate’ from other mediums into the newly created “free field”. Many painters and sculptors, who had refused to cooperate with the conscripted “socialist realism” trend, switched to the medium of glass. They gained artistic freedom, and the art of glass gained their talents.

The reflection of that freedom, which came like another wave in the worldwide storm of the cry for the freedom of expression, can be found in realistic and imaginary scenes, painted in glass. These scenes engage in dialogue with the viewer’s point of view and take him on a fascinating journey in this dynamic, varied and unique exhibition.

60 pieces from 15 of the greatest Czech artists, who worked during the communist regime, speak for themselves: inner spaces that communicate with the outer spaces through bridges and giant glass sculptures; glass horses and the heads of boxers, in a black room of mirrors make the viewer a part of the mysterious creation; birds and legendary sea creatures made with a combination of marvelous techniques and colors, discovering dreams, hopes and fears, locked between layers of glass.

Preserving the Bohemian tradition

But the Czech glass art was inspired by more than just thirst for self expression and freedom. It was also inspired by the natural resources and the vast distances of the land it originated in.

Even as far back as the middle ages, Bohemia, the western part of today’s Czech Republic, was the home of a magnificent tradition of glass work. A combination of natural and cultural factors, together with an expansion of the markets in the 17th century, created an ideal base for the distribution of glass works in the area, which became synonymous with good taste, aesthetics and luxury. After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, artists from all over the world began to flock to the Czech Republic, which offered training, equipment and tools for creation in glass – that could not be found elsewhere. Some of this professional richness can be encountered in the exhibition through a special installation which will demonstrate the different stages of the process of creating art in glass, from processing the raw material and to the very finish of the piece.

Sculpting and painting in glass

The glass creations of the Czech artists in the exhibition merge the modern abstraction in sculpture and painting with the glorious past of Bohemian glass. They represent two ruling schools in the field of Czech glass work: sculpting in cast glass and painted glass.

Sculpting in cast glass comes from the teachings of Stanislav Libensky, the director of Prague’s Academy of Arts (his predecessor was Josef Kaplický), who raised glass arts from the decorative to the expressive. This school also includes the optical glass displays, identified with artists using minimalistic-geometric sculpting style, such as Vaclav Ziegler, who had exhibited his works in Litvak Gallery last year. The basis of the piece is sculptural, but it also integrates additional techniques such as painting, and engraving, as well as other materials.

The second school – painted glass – prospered in the monumental glass painting studio of the painter and sculptor, Professor Josef Kaplický, and it revolutionized the future of Czech glass art in the years 1948-1962.

Kaplický thought of glass as having a unique potential for expression, in the general context of artistic creation. He set the standard of quality not in the use of the material, but also in its utilization for expressing a deep artistic purpose. His teachings were based on the natural relations between modern architecture, art and tradition, without the enslavement of approaches, as is customary in applied arts.


Litvak Gallery – over 200,000 visitors

Founded in 2009, Litvak Gallery strives to bring the best works of glass art to the Israeli audience. The gallery represents 35 of the international leaders of the genre: Dale Chihuly, Bertil Vallien, Peter Bremers, Davide Salvadore, Howard Ben Tre, Julius Weiland, Lino Tagliapietra, as well as Israeli artists, including Boris Shpeizman, Alex Arbel, Lior Vagima and more. The gallery’s last exhibition, in which Dale Chihuly presented his works, saw over 110 thousand visitors. From the opening of the gallery, over 200,000 people visited it. In the new exhibition – “The Freedom to Create” – the gallery brings the best Czech glass artists together in one of the most important and extensive exhibitions in this field.