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Zbyněk Sekal

Critical thinker, analytical observer, poet of the material:  the multifaceted work of sculptor and painter Zbyněk Sekal (Prague 1923 – Vienna 1998) can be read from many perspectives. An exhibition project at the Belvedere 21 will stage and closely examine some seventy of his objects.

Curated by Harald Krejci.

 

#ZbynekSekal

Tickets

Belvedere 21

Opening Hours
Tuesday to Sunday
11 am - 6 pm
Long evenings: Thursday and Friday
until 9 pm
Address

Belvedere 21
Arsenalstraße 1
1030 Vienna
Austria

Impressions

Exhibition

 

The individual in a labyrinthine world, in danger of alienation – Zbyněk Sekal shows mankind’s fragility. His anthropomorphic creations are emblematic of human identity and stand for a sense of freedom during the Cold War. They reflect not only personal experiences but also Sekal's engagement with phenomenology and existentialism. The exhibition at the Belvedere 21 shows the triumph of human creativity over the malevolence of the times. The preoccupation of Zbyněk Sekal with captivity and exile seems more topical than ever, especially in today's atmosphere of crisis-related upheaval. The museum will showcase some seventy of his objects. The exhibition is part of a Belvedere research project on the cultural landscape of Central Europe in the 1960s and 1970s.

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The Artist

Zbyněk Sekal attained high esteem in the avant-garde artist circles of Prague and Vienna as early as the 1960s. His work bears the hallmarks of his roots in Prague's Surrealist tradition. Such work includes early paintings, “material” paintings, as well as bronze and stone sculptures. In the wake of the crushed Prague Spring of 1968, Sekal immigrated via Germany to Vienna. Here he developed his "shrines," called schránky, in addition to combine paintings and anthropomorphous sculptures. These manifest Sekal's poetic examination of solitude and isolation, of disappearance and imprisonment.

Zbyněk Sekal, Cross, after 1975, Private collection
Photo: Johannes Stoll / Belvedere, Vienna © Bildrecht Vienna 2020

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Künstlerbiographie

 

1923

 

Zbyněk Sekal is born 12 July in Prague.

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1934 bis 1945

 

Arrested for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets and detained in the Prague-Pankrác prison and the concentration camps of Theresienstadt and Mauthausen until the end of the war. Prior to arrest, he maintains contacts with young writers who, in 1943, found the Surrealist group “Spořilovští surrealisté.”

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1945 bis 1950

 

Studies painting at the Academy of Applied Arts Design (Vysoká škola uměleckoprůmyslová, a.k.a. UMPRUM) in Prague. First trip to Paris 1947, where he attends the International Surrealism exhibition. He is fascinated by Jean Dubuffet’s work. Discontinues his studies following events         of 1948 in Czechoslovakia.

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1951 bis 1953

 

Works as a commercial artist and editor in a publishing house for political literature. Friendship with the philosopher Ivan Dubský; keeps a personal diary of his own philosophical contemplations.

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1953 bis 1958

 

Moves to Bratislava. Translates from German texts by Franz Kafka, Georg Büchner, Günter Grass, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Karl Marx. In 1957 co-founds the artists' association Skupina Máj 57. The first exhibition is held in the Prague Municipal House on 31 May 1957.

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1958 bis 1961

 

Returns to Prague. Travels to Moscow, St. Petersburg (1959), Warsaw, and Gdansk (1961).

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1961 bis 1968

 

Participates in international symposia: ceramics symposium in Gmunden (1964, 1965), sculpture symposium St. Margarethen (1966), sculpture symposium Vyšné Ružbachy (1967). In 1968 the Soviet occupation finally forces him to emigrate.

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1969 bis 1970

 

DAAD scholarship in Berlin. Designs a wall in the David Hansemann House in Düsseldorf.

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1970

 

In September, relocates to Vienna, where he will remain until his death.

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1971

 

Solo exhibitions at the Galerie im Griechenbeisl in Vienna and the Galerie Maerz in Linz, participation in the group exhibition Imago at Schloss Lengenfeld near Krems.

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1972 bis 1974

 

Assistant lecturer at the Academy in Stuttgart.

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1974

 

Joins the Vienna Secession.

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1977 bis 1979

 

Interior decoration of the Guthirtenkirche in Lustenau. Solo exhibitions in the Neue Galerie Graz, the Museum Bochum, and the Museum of the 20th Century in Vienna.

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1980 bis 1981

 

Scholarship, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

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1984

 

Prize of the City of Vienna for sculpture.

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1989

 

One-month journey through Japan.

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1997

 

Retrospective exhibition in the Gallery of the Capital Prague.

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1998

 

24 February Zbyněk Sekal dies in Vienna.

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