The Ways of Light

5-6 2009 Kultura English
obálka čísla

Josef Benedikt

The phenomenon of light has a spiritual dimension. Light and darkness are symbols of the divine and the unholy, the good and the evil, birth and annihilation and others. Even Jesus Christ calls himself the light for the world.

Some people are determined to unlock and open the gate to light and let the light permeate us.

They are gifted to pass the light onto others and thus change them. An Italian philosopher called Maurizio Malaguti writes in his poetic texts about “the ways of light” which show themselves in an affectionate sight of human beings. The light and the good in them are transformed into their strength and ability to lead. Even in our present time we find people who witness this: Mother Therese of Calcutta, John Paul II or Dalai Lama.

The radiance and brightness of light can also be found in works of visual art: in the paintings of icons, full of mystical radiance, in medieval pictures reflecting the dynamic beauty of heavenly life, in pictures of Van Gogh with the light of colour harmony revealing some secrets of life or in Gauguin’ s paintings, though darker and thus more alarming.

I have always felt this kind of light in front of graphic works of Josef Benedikt. Born in Písek in 1939 he found poetry (of F. Šrámek, J. Seifert, V. Nezval, F. Gellner and F. Hrubín) a unique inspiration for his creation. Another source of his inspiration was the work of other writers (B. Hrabal), but also painters, composers and musicians. Together with several other graphic artists Josef Benedikt formed a group called Gama and became its leader. They are all close friends and their common talks, thoughts and yearnings have influenced their individual work, but have also resulted in creating their common graphic collections where the topic and size of the work are given but everything else is up to the individual artist’ s freedom.

The graphic art of Josef Benedikt has been enriched by his lifelong profession of a geographer. His knowledge of material, his precision of artistic expression even in detail, finding new techniques of printing are significant for it. As for his themes, he is inspired by his memories and positive feelings. The natural surroundings of his present home in Dobruška surrounded by the Orlické mountains have been his permanent inspiration. He is forever enchanted by this scenery. His friends call him a persistent romanticist.

His illustrations are also highly acknowledged. His pictures could often in smaller size be graphic works and vice versa because of their deeply combined externalization of topic both in drawing and in colour – scheme. Especially the graphic technique of his monotypes full of delicate figures, plants, leaves of grass, bluish horizons, white mists and waves gives them poetic strength, unique transparency and lightness.

After exhibiting his monotypes in the Czech Parliament the artist was asked to prepare another exhibition of monotypes in the Gallery of Visual Art in Náchod. It takes place from April 24 to June 21 2009 and is an homage to his life anniversary and an honour for the public. Through his creation the autor shows us the light of his way. Thus he leads us to our own.

Olga Szymaňská
Translated by Eva Vojnova
in Galerie výtvarného umění Náchod

Vydavatelem Českého dialogu je Mezinárodní český klub

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