Lumír Hladík is a post WWII neo-Avant-Garde artist, a pioneering figure of the 70s East European conceptual and performance art movement. Fascinated by its immediacy and formal freedom, he engaged in action art, installations and interventions, along with similar-minded artists such as Karel Miler, Petr Štembera, Jan Mlčoch and Jiří Kovanda. He has adopted a very distinctive form of body art, described by the renowned art historian Pavlína Morganová as arranging “derailed situations”, documenting his art in photography and 8mm film. His early work explored the notions of alterity, mortality and determinism. After moving to Canada in 1982, the artist spent over three decades studying natural entropy in the Canadian wilderness. His art, an eclectic mix of retro curia, baroque exuberance and sleek urban glitz-kitsch exploits and cross-pollinates wide spectrum of disciplines such as drawings, mixed media, vintage ready-mades, performance art, installations and interventions. His bio-interventions, an inter-species collaborative work that incorporates destructive marks of wild black bears and other native animals and insects, are exploring notions of immortality and celebrity. Hladík’s urge to preserve and venerate divine destruction generated by innocent “living saints - anonymous wild animals” is his knee-jerk reaction to a phenomenon he describes as the “derailed civilization”. He claims that, “our disrespect for death is killing life!” Hladík’s Symbiotic work is closely associated with the lost art of the “Catacomb Saints”: ancient Roman skeletons.
His work is multilayered, riddled with ambiguity, double entendres and myriads of subtle references. Hladík claims that his art responds to today’s society’s ubiquitously ridiculous “rational” defence of its own irrationality. He describes his work as a celebration of the Kosmos’ unity in complexity, as well as a mockery of ignorance of ignorance as well as a despisement of the human mind’s erring mentation and disorienting languaging. He is trying to expose the bizarre, arbitrary universe of human “rationality”, its ubiquitous platitudes and negation of history and cultural contexts, creating a frenzied alchemy of innuendos: mixing quantum physics, biology, history, philosophy and religion.
Due to political circumstances in former Czechoslovakia and his immigration, Hladík has not appeared on the international art radar until around 2008. His early action/performance art has been discovered in 2010 and a comprehensive monography published in 2011. Consequently, his art has been acquired by prominent art museums and art institutions in the Czech Republic, including the National Gallery / Prague (2012), GASK (2016)/ Kutná Hora and GAVU (2016) / city of Cheb and the National Film Archive (2019) / Czech Republic. The genuine strength and originality of his work also attracted institutions and galleries in other countries - Germany, Romania, USA and Canada. In 2020, his work has been acquired by the National Gallery of Canada.
National Gallery of Canada, ca
National Gallery, Prague, cz
Museum of Decorative Arts
and Photography u(p)m, Prague, cz
National Film Archive, cz
GASK, Museum of the central
Bohemian region, cz
GAVU, Museum of Fine Arts, Cheb, cz
THE TICHY OCEAN FOUNDATION COLLECTION, ch / cz