Mikuláš Medek

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Mikuláš Medek (November 3, 1926 - August 23, 1974) was a Czech painter. He was a grandson of the impressionist painter Antonín Slavíček, son of the General of the Czechoslovak Army and Catholic writer Rudolf Medek and brother of the journalist Ivan Medek.[1] He is considered one of the most important representatives of Czech modern painting and one of the most important exponents of the post-war period.[2] He was the husband of the photographer Emila Medková.

During the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia, the general hostility towards modern art and free thinking clashed with his artistic independence and the spiritual dimensions of his works leading to a long lasting ban on displaying his works. The first full exhibition was realised only in 2002 in the Rudolphinum gallery in Prague. A selection of his works had been exhibited in a local gallery in Roudnice nad Labem in 1989 with no public notice. He died in Prague in August 1974.


Medek's work initially relies on the tradition of surrealism,[3] later it brings new elements of the spiritual dimension. In 1952, he entered his "existential period" with the central theme of the human character in space, and at the turn of the 1950s and 1960s he came to abstract painting.[4] As a result, so-called "prepared paintings" of color matter, arranged in the form of surface symbols and rationally distributed color formations have come into being. He brings the theme of the basic question of the meaning of human life directly to the color of its original image-making techniques (emails, etc.). In the last period of his life, he developed imaginative painting and also devoted himself to a book illustration.

His work, thanks to non-public exhibitions (so-called "Confrontation"), became a model for younger radical artists. After 1960, Medek was allowed to realize some public monumental works, which included the altarpiece of the church in Jedovnice (1963), made together with sculptor Jan Koblasa and the compositions for the interiors of the Czechoslovak office. airlines in Damascus, Košice (1963), Paris (1964), Prague (1969) and New York (1970).

The central theme of Medek's work is the theme of human destiny, which is combined with the emotive expression of the intensive experience of the mystical character in an inwardly unified and unusually impressive whole, which speaks to the spectator with extreme urgency. Symbolism of sign systems creates special visual metaphors of human existence in its tragic, painful and mysterious dimensions.

The most important works[edit]

Medek's works are largely owned by galleries (e.g. Sydney, New York, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Bochum, Bratislava, Skopje, etc.) or are contained in private collections around the world.


  • Surrealism: "Magnetic Fish", "Noise of Silence", "The World of Onion", ad.
  • Existential surrealism: "The head of a sleeping imperialist dream", "Naked thorns", "Cranach's overflow with an imperialist flower", "Day and night", "Riddle", "Screaming", "Kiss", "The Feast"
  • Prepared paintings: "Cross of Iron", "Celebration of 21,870 red centimeters", cycle "Venus", own cycle "Prepared paintings", ad.
  • Imaginative paintings: Cycles "Hosts Without Host", "Tower Designers", "Angry Angels", "Angled Angel I, II", "Great Inquisitor", "Annunciation," "Moving Grave I.-IV." Medek's final painting was "The Four Circles" (1974).



  1. ^ PRECLÍK, Vratislav. Masaryk a legie (Masaryk and legions), váz. kniha, 219 pages, first issue - vydalo nakladatelství Paris Karviná, Žižkova 2379 (734 01 Karvina, Czechia) ve spolupráci s Masarykovým demokratickým hnutím (Masaryk democratic movement, Prague), 2019, ISBN 978-80-87173-47-3 , str. 23 - 24, 153 - 54
  2. ^ "Galerie umění v K. Varech představuje nepřetržitý dialog manželů Medkových". Czech Television (in Czech). ČT24. 10 March 2008. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  3. ^ Owen, Jonathan L. (2011). Avant-garde to New Wave: Czechoslovak Cinema, Surrealism and the Sixties. Berghahn Books. ISBN 9780857451279. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  4. ^ Fijalkowski, Krzysztof (2017). Surrealism and Photography in Czechoslovakia: On the Needles of Days. Routledge. ISBN 9781351547413. Retrieved 22 December 2018.