Dana Puchnarová (1938)
is a painter, graphic artist, illustrator, teacher trainer and also a writer.
She studied at the Střední odborná škola výtvarná [High School of the Arts] in Prague (1953–1957) and from 1958 at the Akademie výtvarného umění [The Academy of Fine Arts] in Prague where she finished her Master’s work with Prof. K. Souček in 1964.
From 1991 she worked for 12 years as a teacher trainer in the Art Education Department of the Pedagogical Faculty of Palacký University in Olomouc.
Her artworks are in the collections of the National Gallery in Prague, the Czech Museum of Fine Arts in Prague, the Aleš South Bohemian Gallery in Hluboká nad Vltavou, the Olomouc Museum of Art and many private collections in the Czech Republic and abroad.
In the first half of the 1960s, Dana Puchnarová’s work made an important contribution to the Czech version of European Informel; it has ensured an important place in the history of Czech modern art by itself. What is more important is that she has maintained the continuity of the spiritual sense of art, of thought in the work, which “places the emphasis on consciousness in the work, on ideas in the work.”
From the first exhibition of the cycle Geometria Spiritualis at Prague’s “Mánes” in 1964, she has been searching and finding in art a code which – as she wrote in her notes for the exhibition – makes of the subject a transpersonal value, a metaphysical standing.
She found (and is still finding) themes which are characteristic for her work in philosophy and literature; in the first period of her creation it was the works of Jacques Maritain, Albert Camus, František Halas and especially the stories and novels of Franz Kafka: a graphic cycle to the stories in the book Malá pozorování [Small Observations] was the subject of her Master’s work at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague.
The visions of persecution, secret informing, feelings of guilt and blind wandering from Kafka expressed in her work were feelings she got to experience herself in her own life after signing Charta 77 [Charter 77] in 1977, when in the years following she was interrogated by Státní bezpečností [State Security] and was placed under great psychological pressure. This she expressed in other cycles of her work and in important images; works which arose on the basis of difficult psychological pressure are not the kind of art which can liberate a person.
And thus already in 1966 she began to work with curves and pure colours, reaching a harmony and simplicity significantly differing from the previous period in which she worked with weighty painting substance and structures. The cycle Vize zničené civilizace [Visions of a Ruined Civilisation] from 1978 also includes several personal paraphrases of the totalitarian Pomník [Monument], as both a conceptual and visionary component of the project.
At the beginning of the 1990s these resulted in the first Zahalené kresby [Veiled Drawings], work on translucent materials, which expressed the colour and energetic potential of art.
A spiritual turning point in the work of Dana Puchnarová was initiated by a visit to India in 1996; the ashrams of spiritual instructors and experience with yoga practises helped the artist along the path toward new transcendence.
An expression of this orientation was the cycle Sítě [Networks] in 1996, which, as several other cycles, is ongoing, and its title indicates this continuation, for the networks are in their timelessness a “symbol of spiritual oneness and shared paths toward peace and harmony.”
If modern art is often only working with banality, and searching for sense in senselessness, the painter Dana Puchnarová is creating work which “can give the viewer inner strength and energy” and by this, her position in it is also unique.
Dana Puchnarová has received high praise both home and abroad, beginning in 1965 with the Cena Ministerstva kultury ČSSR [Prize of the Ministry of Culture of Czechoslovakia], followed by the Folkwang-Presse-Preis in Essen, West Germany in the following year, and Graphic Artist of the Year in 1997.
The exhibition arose on the basis of the first full treatment of the artist’s work, of which a still greater portion is presented by word and image in the accompanying publication.