Jiří Vlach

Czech Republic

* 14.08.1946 Žarošice

Academic sculptor, Jiří Vlach, belongs to the new generation of Czech artists who have studied in a politically free atmosphere since the late 1960's. The period since then is considered a turning point, because it represented the end of socialistic realism and fostered conditions for the development of new contemporary artforms. Neither the Iron Curtain’s totalitarianism nor the period of normalisation of the 70’s nor 80’s could stop the evolution of a new direction in art that affected all areas including sculpture. Through experimentation and a process of metamorphosis the classical forms of painting and sculpture were changed and in some cases disappeared, replaced by fresh emphasis and new media. Most artists now aspire to express their feelings about the world through this new-found movement.

As a head teacher of the Department of Ceramics at the Secondary School of Applied Arts in Uherské Hradiště, Jiří Vlach specialised in ceramics. His creative talents have been mainly directed towards art in miniature, working with medals, plaques and chamber sculpture. His work gained recognition in the late 1970's when it was chosen to represent Czechoslovakia in an International Exhibition of Medals in Lisbon. Since this exhibition, his notoriety and expertise in the field of small relief sculpture and medal design has spread and is recognised throughout Europe.

He participates in all international and national medal exhibitions where he prefers classical means for expressing his artistic conceptions. Over the last ten years he has been associated with the creation and development of the International Symposium of Cast Medal, Plaque and Small Sculpture which was founded in Uherské Hradiště in 1988. The Symposium has become an important centre for medal design in Central Europe.

As well as classical sculpture and designing medals Jiří Vlach's expansive creativity takes him into the fields of drawing, magazine illustrating (Psí Víno), architectonic realisations and bell reliefs. The most common inspirations for his work come from nature, the human body and philosophical items. His work is full of fantasy, creativity, romance and in some cases show a sense of humour. The works "Sousedská výpomoc" and "Dirigent" are representative of this humour but with a sense of cynicism.

Drawing has played an important role in Vlach's artistry. He sees it as a basic building block, mediating between his inner world and the production of his artistic work. He portrays and defines ideas that come to his mind during the day by recording his reflections and conceptions through his drawings. Such ideas are closely related to the final sculpture or relief.

As well as this method of generating ideas he often returns to his earlier work for inspiration for new creations. While Vlach used only pencil in his earlier drawings he has since turned to pencil and colour to better express his ideas.

Jiří Vlach's art is said to have extraordinary gift to survive.