Vladimír Novák (painter)

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Vladimír Novák (painter)

Vladimír Novák (born April 30, 1947) is a Czech painter.


Novák was born in Louny, Czech Republic. He studied at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts under Professor Arnost Paderlik. He is a member of the art group 12/15: Better Late Than Never. Currently he lives in Prague and Milan. His wife is an Italian writer Serena Vitale.


Vladimir Novak belongs to the generation of artists who began studying at art schools in the liberal atmosphere of the end of the 1960s. This generation fully emerged on the art scene in about the mid-1970s, however, at a time characterized by a very different climate: the hard-line regime which resulted from 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia instituted a system of repression officially termed „normalization“, in which the Czech society lived in an isolation from the world, deprived of proper contacts with foreign art. The Seventies generation resolved its difficult position by consciously following on from the domestic tradition of independent art work, namely representatives of the Czech branch of existential figuration that worked with the symbol of the human body as a kind of moral mirror of society, and also artists of the circle of New Figuration who established the ironic programme of the „Czech grotesque“.

At the end of the Seventies and beginning of the Eighties, however, Novak’s generation gradually created its own collective aesthetic code, emphasizing the task of the metaphorical message, concealing in an encoded form an ethical assessment of the society of that time. Novak ranks among those who most faithfully fulfilled the programme of his generation; he is an artist whose vision of the picture is a monumental one, and whose entire work thus far has been concentrated on the theme of the unstable position of human identity in a modern society. This theme is developed through an original artistic language whose basic unit is a free-moving animate fragment – for example the torso of a figure or another natural form – cast into an undefined space. The accumulation of these fragments often suggests feelings of uncertainty, anguish and being threatened, but also the methods of searching for apparently Clar truths. It is as if the frame work of the drawing and seemingly independent paint substance becomes an illustration of a skeptical way of thinking itself. Stubbornly continuing in his struggle with this theme brings results in the form of consummate achievement in the field of painting.

In about the mid-Eighties, Novak’s paintings became more radical: instead of a tranquil, relative reflection there appeared an aggressive, colourful expression of a concentrated emotional nature corresponding to the emergence at that time of a new wave in the Czech art. It began featuring an expressive throng of forms telling of the violence, fragility, depths and anguish in reaction to a perceived abyss, existing at the plane of ideas and feelings. Novak’s large canvases, presenting imagined landscapes and spaces, speak to the viewer with great personal openness in a symbolic form about the current precarious position of mankind at the end of the 20th century.


Vladimir Novak took part in many solo and group exhibitions. The most famous were the exhibitions "Man in the Wind" at the Ball-Game Hall in the Royal Gardens of Prague Castle in 1999 and "Quasiretro" at the Manes Art Gallery in Prague in 2005.

Represented in collections[edit]

Prague City Gallery

The Czech Museum of Fine Arts in Prague

Aleš South Bohemian Gallery in Hluboká nad Vltavou

Art Gallery in Carlsbad