Adriena Šimotová, face, Bratislava/Praha, Slovenská národná galéria v Bratislave/Kant, 2004
Adriena Šimotová, Empreintes, Galerie de France, Paris, 6 November – 4 December 1982→
L’œil éphémère, œuvres d’Adriena Šimotová, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon, 28 June – 30 September 2002→
Adriena Šimotová, Muzeum umění Olomouc, Olomouc, 9 November 2006 – 28 January 2007
Czech painter and draughtswoman.
Adriena Šimotová was a dominant figure in both the Czech art scene of the early 1970s as well and he political struggle of the Prague avant-garde. She brought the expression of the suffering body – the basis of her artistic approach – to the highest level of symbolic significance. She first studied with Zdenek Balas at the State Graphic School and later at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design under Josef Klapickly in Prague. She was closely linked with members of the UB 12 group, which included Václav Boštík, Stanislav Kolibal,Věra Janoušková (1922-2010), Mzarek, as well as her husband Jiří John, all of whom were committed to maintaining a humanistic and spiritual tradition. After several political happenings and personal hardships – the death of her husband in 1972 followed by the death of her son – she abandoned abstraction for the human figure, which became the principal subject of her work. In the late 1960s, A. Šimotova abandoned painting for wall collages, or “spatial drawings” (Arrival-Departure, 1977; Bust, Homage to Antiquity, 1979-1980), in which surfaces of heterogenous material were juxtaposed: canvas, fabric, glass, lead, paper.
These free, cut-up, torn, floating surfaces bend to the very life of the appearance/disappearance of the human form, telling of its fragility, its precariousness: a preoccupation that could be described as “existentialist” and influenced by Martin Buber’s thought on the temporal and physical conditions of humanity’s presence. By opting definitively for paper – whose fragility and resistance she questioned, and which she liked for its permeability and capacity to be a sensitive deposit surface, or what she later described as “skin” – she multiplied her processes of graphic interventions: perforating, lacerating, leafing, crumpling, rubbing (often directly on the body), scratching, scarifying. It is a work of melancholy: the artist favoured the void, the translucent, the transparent (with a particular preference for tracing and tissue paper) to express the invisibility of faces, the mystery of her destiny. Attached to the intimate experience of mourning, the figure, or body, never appears as a whole but rather in torn, scattered fragments, crossed by empty spaces and allusions – doodles, smudging of graphite and of coloured pastels. Trembling silhouettes of bodies extracted from nothingness (Ecstatic Figure, 1986; Prayer for an Abandoned Village, 1993) and ghostly faces of eyes and mouths (Expressive Head, 1985-1986) could be counted as acheiropoietic images. The work takes on an environmental dimension: suspended rolls, series of aligned strips (Passant, 1999). No graphical emphasis was ever put on truthfulness – the status of the objective trace of these memory surfaces was delivered frontally. A. Simotova’s work is a silent meditation with completely internalised emotions.
Adriena Šimotová, From the cycle A Touch of Colour – The Assumption, 1992-1993, dry pastel, paper, 97 ×180 cm, Olomouc Museum of Art, © Adriena Šimotová
Adriena Šimotová, Untitled, 1999, coloured pigments on yellow paper, 35 x 32 cm, Collection particulière, © Adriena Šimotová
Adriena Šimotová, White Night, 1971, acrylic and tempera on fiberboard, 171 x 172 cm, Kunsthalle Praha, © Adriena Šimotová