sábado, 11 de fevereiro de 2012
The Genius of Josef Lada
The hugely popular illustrator, cartoonist, painter, and novelist, as well as a successful caricaturist and stage designer, Josef Lada was born in Hrusice on December 17, 1887. He grew up in this small village in the Sazava River Valley, about 30 miles southeast of Prague, as the youngest of four siblings in a relatively poor family of a village cobbler. In the first year of his life, he had a life-altering accident – he fell on his father’s knife and the injuries sustained permanently blinded his right eye. Some art historians later attributed the artist’s flat-perspective painting style to this incident.
In 1913, after having lived in a number of sublets in Prague, he moved into a flat on Dittrichova Street with Jaroslav Hasek (where they lived together until the end of January 1915, when Hasek joined forces on the Galician front). From then until the end of the First World War, Lada worked on magazine and book illustrations. During this time he befriended ethnographer and storyteller Vaclav Tille (who also published under the pen name V. Riha). In 1917, he issued a collection of postcards (with A. Dyk’s publishing house Emporium) and co-founded the satirical magazine Sibenicky (The Gallows). He works as an artist with Eduard Bass’ cabaret troupe, The Red Seven, and increasingly concentrates on illustrations for books, mostly Czech fairy tales and nursery rhymes from various authors (e.g., Mahen, Nemcova, Erben, Kubin).
Outside his main line of artwork (newspaper and magazine cartoons, book illustrations, and paintings), Lada accepted a number of contracts for promotional and advertising art; among the most important are the series How Newspapers Are Made (1928) and a set of twelve drawings, There’s No Life Without Water (1937). In 1929, he produced one of the paintings (Tancovacka, The Dance) from his famous “Pub Brawl” series. At the beginning of the 1930s, Lada’s talent was put to use in theater, too; he designed sets and costumes for the National Theater’s productions of J. K. Tyl’s musical The Piper of Strakonice (1930), O. Zich’s opera The Artist’s Idea (1933), and V. Blodek’s opera In the Well (1934). The artist continued to expand his body of paintings; in the years after his second solo exhibition in Prague’s Krasna jizba gallery (1930), he painted works such as Hospoda u Sejku (Pub at the Sejkas), Prvni jarni vyjizdka (The First Spring Trip), Vrany leti (Crows Flying), and his first Hastrman (Water Sprite) – Lada had actually rendered this fairy-tale character before, but only in drawings. He concurrently gained renown in children’s literature with the publication of his first book about a talking cat, O Mikesovi (Purrkin, the Talking Cat, 1933).
During the Protectorate period, besides images of watermen and water nymphs, his paramount works included Hajneho sen (Gamekeeper’s Dream) and Zvirata prezimuji v hajovne (Animals Hibernating in the Gamekeeper’s Lodge, 1941), the multiple-painting series Twelve Months (1941) and Rvacka v hospode (The Pub Brawl, 1943), a series of impressive nighttime images – May nights and numerous of winter scenes, including the popular rural hog-killings. The artist also displayed mastery in pictures of snow-covered landscapes with villages or children (Krajina s koledniky [Landscape with Carolers] 1942;
In September 1947, Josef Lada was appointed National Artist of Czechoslovakia. Over the next year, Lada devotes himself to paintings for his Czech Christmas series, and made the first version of his inimitable Before the Storm. Fortunately, Lada’s work was hardly influenced by the ascendant genre of Socialist Realism (his Pan-Slavic Agricultural Exhibition series).
After the artist’s solo exhibition in the Posov Gallery at the European Literary Club in Prague (1948), Lada painted the “autobiographical” Hastrmanuv podzim (The Water Sprite’s Autumn, 1949), brimming with melancholy, and that same year another now classic version of The Pub Brawl. In 1948, the painter began collaborating on films – the very first was Rikadla (Nursery Rhymes), an animated film directed by Eduard Hofman with music by Leos Janacek (completed in 1949).
In the late 40s and early 50s, Lada focused his efforts on illustration and non-commissioned works and had several exhibitions. His wife Hana’s death in January 1951 was reflected in the mood of pivotal paintings from that period (Smutna rusalka [Sad Nymph], Ticha noc [Silent Night], Vodnik a havran [Waterman and the Raven], Tvrdy chleb [Hard Bread]).
In 1952, Lada created sets for Dvorak’s opera The Devil and Kate, which were rejected and returned to the artist without explanation. The book Josef Lada for Children was published for the first time, and H. Huska made a documentary, National Artist Josef Lada. From 1953–1954, the artist completes multiple series of new book illustrations (K. Erben’s Fairy Tales, the color edition of The Bogeyman and the Water Sprite, etc.),
and begins working on a new collection of color illustrations for The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Svejk During the World War. He paints more water sprites and develops his classic themes (spring, autumn, snowman, hog-killing).
Lada passed through his final fruitful painting phase in 1955. Although his health had deteriorated substantially, he managed to complete a set of twelve paintings, with the same format and winter themes, recapping his most idiosyncratic and popular motifs.
These works represent a well-rounded collection of Josef Lada’s later paintings. Vanocni kapr (Christmas Carp), Ponocny a snehulak (The Night Watchman and the Snowman), and Veverka (Squirrel) are all distinguished by originality, while the now famous variants of the drawings Lednacek (Kingfisher), Tri kralove (Twelfth Night), Ledari (Icemen), Pro drivi (For Firewood), or S koledou (With a Carol) were rendered with perfection. In the same year, Huska made a second documentary, Ladovi furianti (Lada’s Furiants), and there were two premieres – of the animated movie The Devil and Kate, with set designs by Lada, and the puppet film The Good Soldier Svejk, whose director and screenwriter Jiri Trnka made puppets based on Lada’s drawings. The painter could not personally contribute to designing the forthcoming feature film Playing with the Devil because he had undergone treatment in Frantiskovy Lazne at the beginning of the summer. The bound monograph National Artist Josef Lada, with copy by Jaromir Pecirka, was published in an edition of Sources.
In 1956, a collection of poems by Jaroslav Seifert was published – Chapec a hvezdy (The Boy and the Stars), inspired by Lada’s paintings. Lada’s storybook illustrations and Svejk sketches were exhibited at the Venetian Biennale.
That same year, the feature film The Good Soldier Svejk was completed. Director Karel Stekly selected cast with respect to Lada’s original illustrations. He spent the year of 1957 working on new color illustrations for storybooks (About the Cunning Uncle Fox, Purrkin, the Talking Cat, and Drda’s Czech Fairy Tales). The artist’s final work was the expressive painting Water Sprite in Winter.
After the August show “Josef Lada and the Book,” an extensive retrospective of his work was prepared for Prague’s Slovansky (Slavic) Island. Just before opening, on December 14, however, Lada passed away, three days before his 70th birthday.
The importance of this Czech, in fact “national” painter – whom the general public knows almost exclusively from his children’s books, postcards, and calendars – is becoming ever more recognized by fine arts experts and admirers.
However, one of the most precious aspects of the artist’s personality is often forgotten: originality. Josef Lada’s distinctive painting style – polished and perfected during the 20s and culminating with the “iconic Lada” beginning the mid 30s – has given him an extraordinary place in contemporary European art. He can be likened to artists such as Paul Gauguin, Henri “Customs Officer” Rousseau, and Marc Chagall. In that respect, of Czech artists, perhaps only Jan Zrzavy and Jiri Trnka could compete with him.
Source Homepage Central Boehmia Region: http://www.57osobnosti.cz/45-en