Helena Mrázová — Pavel Zatloukal
Hastík Jiří: Jaromír Hanzelka. Jan Kratochvíl. Katalog výstavy. Olomouc 1981.
Kobza František: Návštěva v ateliéru Jana Kratochvíla. Kulturní měsíčník 7-8, 1986, s. 12-14.
Kobza František: Výtvarné umění kriticky a náročně. Kulturní měsíčník 10, 1987, s. 10-12.
Kříž Jan: K výstavě Jana Kratochvíla — Kleslá mytologie. Katalog výstavy. Praha 1969.
Kříž Jan: Písmo a obraz. Umění a řemesla 4, 1986, s. 26-31.
Křížová Květa: Svítidla a světelné objekty Jana Kratochvíla. Domov 5, 1978, s. 23-25.
Křížová Květa: Jan Kratochvíl's Glass Illumination Objects, Lighting Fixtures and Sculptures.
Glass Review 12, 1988, s. 32-35.
Petrová Eva: Nová figurace. Katalog výstavy. Praha 1969, nestránkováno.
Zatloukal Pavel: 26 mladých výtvarných umělců Olomoucka. Katalog výstavy. Olomouc 1980, s. 10. Zatloukal Pavel (ed.): „Oznámení o Ikarově letu'' Olomoucká šedesátá léta v zrcadle výtvarné
kultury. Katalog výstavy. Olomouc 1998, barevné reprodukce na str. 231, 237.
LIFE AND WORKS
Helena Mrázová — Pavel Zatloukal
Jan Kratochvíl was born in Prague, on 30 July 1941. He studied at the School of Applied Arts in Jablonec nad Nisou (1956-59), then did his national military service and afterwards continued in his study at the Department of the theory of art and art education and the Department of Czech philology at the Philosophical Faculty of Palacký University in Olomouc (1962-67). He concluded his university study with writing the thesis „Logical foundations of the theory of art".
From his youth on, the range of his interests was very wide. Originally he wanted to become a natural scientist and his way to painting actually led via drawings of plants and birds — these pictures were meant for a book on biology he was about to write. In the end he developed a permanent positive relationship to Nátuře, and to the end of his life he continued being interested in entomology. In order to obtain new materiál for his collection, he travelled widely and even discovered three new varieties of the Capricorn beetle. During his studies and his military service he also became involved in amateur theatre. He wrote and directed several plays and even acted in them (at secondary school he founded his own „Little Theather of Paraphrases"). His good knowledge of the stage and its spáče is reflected in his paintings, too.
But with increasing intensity he devoted himself to painting and applied art. At first, i.e. in the mid-1960s, he was partly and for a time only influenced by the subsiding informel, and partly (particularly in a series of collages and prints) by the surrealist principle of meeting with the accidental. Soon (and not only in connection with ending his study and thus having now enough free time) he was oné of the first artists in Czechoslovakia to join the recent stream of New Figuration. But within it he from the very beginning began to build up his own, individual spáče, into which, together with the objectivising conception of painting, he incorporated his scientific inclinations (fondness of philosophy, linguistics, sociology, theory of art, theory of information, but also entomology and experience with absurd drama). Thus he began to produce his first anecdotal stories about degraded mankind, always observed with a strong ironie detachment.
As we said above, between 1967 and 1971 Kratochvíl produced his largest cycle, „Decayed mythologies I", with František as the centrál character. In each of his many pictures he developed some moral aphorism, which often emerged as a šly quotation from old art. He began to shape his favourite subjects in an increasingly more individual, loosened style, enriched with the neofigurative scale, e.g. echoes of tachism. By oscillating between science and art, by his ironical quotations, and his mixture of styles he came to rank among the first Czech postmodernists; last but not least because he returned into painting the classical method of allegory, which had been written off long ago by the modern movement.
After this upsurge of energy his style turned more calm again and around the middle of the 1970s became stabilised in the veristic position. His pictures continued in their allegory, and more and more presented narratives that could more easily be expressed in words. His intellectual irony and playfulness began to give way to grim, resigned statements about the world of lonely, manipulated individuals. In the eighties he nearly stopped painting, preferring interior design, especially of lighting fixtures.
Jan Kratochvíl’s paintings háve not been very well known so far. This is also due to the fact that his exhibitions were mostly held at the turn of the 60s and 70s — he took part in the exhibitions Picture 69 Brno, New Figuration Praha 1969, with a repeat in Brno in 1970, and the exhibition in Chicago in 1970. At that time he had two exhibitions of his own, too in Mánes in Prague in 1969 and at Calne in Great Britain in 1970.
Jan Kratochvíl died on 25 July 1997.