František Foltýn (1891–1976) – From Košice Modernism to Paris Abstraction

opening: 26 June 2019 at 6 p.m.
duration:27 June – 20 October 2019
East Slovak Gallery, Hlavná 27
curators: Petr Ingerle, Ondřej Chrobák

František Foltýn was among the small number of Czech artists whose artwork was created and praised in the context of the international artistic scene. In 1924, at the age of 33, he left for Paris for 10 years and settled in the Montparnasse neighbourhood, which at that time attracted many of the prime protagonists of the artistic avant-garde. He attended private art academies and established important contacts. These associates introduced him to the world-famous artistic groups Cercle et Carré (Circle and Square) and Abstraction-Création, whose establishment reflected the need of creating international platforms for abstract art. Around 1925, Foltýn’s artwork turned a corner. Gradually, his paintings left the suggestive objectivity and focused on the exploration of relationships between lines, geometric and biomorphic shapes and colours. Foltýn successfully presented his new works in Parisian galleries at both solo and collective exhibitions, where he joined leading artists such as Piet Mondrian, Hans Arp, Henryk Stażewski, Kurt Schwitters and Fernand Léger. Foltýn described his artistic ambitions of this period with the following words: “In my artwork, I have always tried to tackle the issues of perception, rightfulness and knowledge of colour development.”

This peak period of the artist’s career was also linked with his early years, which were primarily connected with Bratislava and later also Eastern Slovakia, where his artwork lived through a striking development and attracted the attention of the local public. Foltýn’s fierce personality and the complex and ever-changing character of his work predestined him to the position where he had to face frequent misunderstandings. A similar challenge was also imposed on the general recognition of Foltýn’s contribution to Modern Czech art. In recent years, an important role was played by the complex retrospective exhibition František Foltýn, 1891 - 1976: Košice – Paris – Brno. The exhibition opening was held in the Moravian Gallery in Brno at the turn of 2007 and 2008. A part of this exhibition, among other things, was a compilation of Foltýn’s writings and the first complete list of his works. The current retrospective of Foltýn’s work draws from the facts gathered by the project in Brno and also attempts to enrich it with information about some of the previously unknown or unavailable artworks. The first exhibition also pioneered in the exploration of the phenomenon of Košice Modernism in connection with Foltýn’s stay in the city. In the last ten years, the research of this interesting chapter of Central European Art has been significantly developed. Due to this fact we can today perceive Foltýn’s work in yet another, somewhat amended, context.

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