Foreword

Theofan Zátvorník

„The soul, lead by the Spirit, isn’t just searching for beauty but through beauteous forms
is seeking the expression of the wondrous spiritual world where the Spirit’s influence guides it.”

Portfolio

Václav Česák

“What fascinates me about sculpturing is manifesting the intangible in the coarsest and toughest medium for art through chisel guided by the Holy Spirit.”

František Bílek

“Nothing sadder than human vanity on the pinnacle of fame forced to concede that basis for fame, is nothing.”

Preface

+ Dominic Cardinal Duka O.P.

Archbishop of Prague and Primate of the Czech

The work of every artist is blossoming forth not only from his heart but is also drawing inspiration from the place he inhabits. Looking at the map, I have measured a distance from Starý Smolivec village to the Brdy forests and also to Dožice village, to the places which were connected to my assignment in Nové Mitrovice village. It is an honest and respectable region that reflects the beauty of life, its demands and diligence of its inhabitants. It emanated the power of tradition and truth those almost fifty years ago.

It is not easy to be an artist or a sculptor at a time that overcomes Orwellian visions. The macrocosms and microcosms have allowed us to look into their inner structure and the information flow becomes almost a tsunami of information. It is difficult for a spirit to win its victorious battle over matter in the depth of the heart. New technologies and technical achievements are not just helpful facilitators but they can also become obstacles. I dare to say, this fact is expressed by Václav Česák’s art work in some ways.

The matter is neither an obstacle nor a source of alienation from the point of view of our faith. We are increasingly approaching the precedence of the spirit, precisely in its thrill of microstructure. The original sin (peccatum originale) is not just a matter of priority, because man enters the Garden of Eden impeccant. We can say in today’s language, he is not corrupted. The Sin, this corruption (coruptio), is a step into a void with the promise of unlimited cognition and power. As Charles Peguy rightly said in his poem about Joan of Arc “It is a delusion! It is therefore a tragic mistake that has to be paid for”. This is the answer for the depiction of Jesus Christ on the Cross. This is also the story of St. John of Nepomuk (sv. Jan Nepomucký) in this region we find ourselves. Devotion to Truth, the seeking for Truth, is the only way to overcome the original failing. Jesus Christ and St. John of Nepomuk are the victors. The Spirit, written with a capital S, is the name of Him who Is, it signifies that he is the constant place in times of uncertainty, chaos and confusion. He is the Truth, the Goodness, but also the Beauty. Only in the intersecting point of these ideas, more specifically of the transcendental concepts, we can understand the world and see in it the image of its Creator.

I would like to express my enormous thanks to the author for his work and his true effort to express the struggles of our time.

Jiří T. Kotalík

Václav Česák is one of the sculptors completely dedicated to his work. Part of his individuality is working with a material and searching for adequate shapes, dimensions and silhouettes in the world around him. He fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming a sculptor and because of his versatility and flexibility, he has in recent years obtained public contracts and he has become known because of professional public awareness. The author’s range is hitherto focused primarily on the place where he lives, the Nepomuk Region, in the vicinity of Starý Smolivec village. This region is a great inspiration to him with its poetically modeled landscape and intense spiritual content.

Václav Česák is a fundamentally figurative artist in the essence of his work, which is based on realistic grounds and although he also copes with classical portrait tasks, he really leans towards abstraction based on a dynamic open form of an organic shape. In the ongoing search for his graphic expression, he works with a high level of conventionalism while primarily taking care of the spatial and optical qualities of a balanced overlooking entity. His figures and objects remotely resemble Cubo-Futurism sculptures, on the borderline of industrial design but at the same time they appear to be as if from another unearthly world, imbued with a spiritual imagination because of their fragility and instability. The graceful curves of form express the skills and experience of an active musician. All works of Václav Česák are characterized by both an emphasis on detailed and impeccable craftsmanship and precise finishing of patinas and glazes. He masterfully controls a monumental scale of his sculptures intended for public spaces, as in the case of a 7 meter high statue of ”Don Quixote“, created for a farm in Olšany owned by the famous Czech actor Bolek Polívka or the statue named “Skate man” made for the Škoda Sports Park in Plzeň (Pilsen). The drawings and paintings remain naturally the cornerstone of his work but he is also able to use the methods and technologies involved in the creation of everyday art, such as distinctive designs with the implementation of various price ranges, or the realization of timeless Reliquaries.

He recently succeeded to synthesize and define his creative concept. Probably his most successful art work is the 2017 realisation of a new altar in Zelená Hora (The Green Mountain) castle near Nepomuk town. He created an original concept for the choir of the deconsecrated Castle and Pilgrimage Church of St. Adalbert (Sv. Vojtěch), connecting tradition and the present time. He follows up on the classical medieval leaves and the previous form of the original Baroque altar decorated with an amorous Gothic sculpture in a modern way in his iconographical elaborated work. The fundamental form is the image of the conventional “tree of life” with the ornamental fragments sanded into the smooth surface of the former “auricular” altar. The material of this five – meter section placed on the original altar stone is a stainless steel plate precisely cut through with a laser and its surface treated to a specular gloss. The upper side is supplemented by coloured markings symbolizing the Holy Trinity.

In the same vein, a sanctuary with an original monstrance with the Reliquary of St. Adalbert (Sv. Vojtěch) is created. The actual Madonna itself, that is a little bit older, is not a copy of the original one but an authentic version based on an open vibrant life form, firmly anchored in space. Traditional attributes are also present as the Royal Scepter and the axe stabbed into the back according to the legend. The uniqueness of the material used, which is gilded brass, underlines the sacred tone as a whole. Incidentally, the whole work affects along the same lines of dignified respect that is due to particular attention paid to surface treatment and to the technique of craftsmanship. This is based on long-term experience and cooperation with the renowned Nuremberg metal casting company Lenz-Jahn which is the oldest of its kind in Europe. The whole altar is sensitively positioned in the chorus area and with its monumental dimensions, the altar controls but doesn’t encumber the area. The illumination is solved sophisticatedly, utilizing a maximally opalescent surface and an optical reflection of silver silhouette. It resulted in an art work that created a natural environment for adoration and devotion as well as a silent memory of the sad and emotional fates of this place devastated by the army during the period of political totalitarianism…

The altar of Zelená Hora (The Green Mountain) as well as other Václav Česák works, the decoration of the Salesian Chapel in Plzeň (Pilsen) or the St. John of Nepomuk statue (sv. Jan Nepomucký) in Prádlo village, are accentuating a distinctly spiritual content, reflecting the life philosophy of a deeply religious man. Religious art work has a glorious past in the context of European cultural traditions, but it has lost its privileged position with the advent of modern art, and it often persists on conservative repetition of a binding pattern and decorative historicism. Fortunately, there are a number of exceptions. The existing art work of Václav Česák is one of the best in the Czech Republic in the scope of presentation of contemporary art concepts for the sacral facilities, in addition to the art works of Otomar Oliva, Jaroslav Šerých, Vojtěch Adamec snr. and Bořivoj Rak. I believe the overall approach of completing Zelená Hora (The Green Mountain) Sanctuary, well-thought through in an intention of the author’s collection, including the Way of the Cross and the side altars, can be achieved with joint efforts of religious people and all local residents as in the case of the unique High Altar. A similar intervention of tradition and present time in the creation of modern art work influences in connection with a damaged monument with the scars of time, are incidentally only one of the current problems and tasks to preserve cultural heritage.