KÁJA SAUDEK & the 60‘s
KÁJA SAUDEK & the 60‘s
Golden sixties comics-wise!
Organized by: Arbor vitae societas
Multimedia exhibition of the very best of the king of Czech comics
Czech Centre, Rytířská Street
19 September - 2 January 2010
Few media had so many persistent detractors in the Communist era as the comics. "The literature of the illiterate" suffered badly before 1989. Despite the adverse conditions, there was an artist in the Czech Republic who not only committed himself to comics but whose creations were comparable to the best in "the imperialist West“. Thanks to his qualities, Kája Saudek gained the title of the king of Czech comics, and even though there are a number of dedicated comics artists now, he has not been dethroned so far. "Saudek is the most eminent Czech comics artist. When I was a boy, his series opened a door for me to an amazing world full of energy, ideas and imagination of unrivalled mastery," says Jiri Grus, the leading representative of today's generation of comics artists and the author of the Voleman series.
Kája Saudek was not only the author of daring comics, but also an adept advertising designer and an artistic extraordinaire who was able to move successfully between film, commercial graphical design and illustration. His considerable contribution to this area is the subject of the exhibition Kája Sádek and the '60s or the Golden sixties comics-wise!, which will take place at the Czech Centre in Prague in Rytířska Street from 19 September to 2 January. It is apparent from the exhibition that the most important works of the author were created during the '60s, as the relaxed nature of that period and Saudek's style are best reflected in them. His illustrations ooze eroticism both in their content and the overall expression.
The exhibition features several unknown and unpublished works. The central item here is the collection of photographs by the artist's twin brother, the world famous photographer Jan, repainted with added dialogues in bubbles by Kája. Thanks to these touches, the photos with a cinematic atmosphere gain a new, often funny and ironic meaning. "My brother was a genius, and if not that, a half-genius. He had terrific imagination and he could draw extremely well. He had this knack for drawing women, completely unlike anybody else," says the photographer Jan Saudek. Unfortunately, a part of the comics-restyled photos were confiscated in 1964 by StB (the secret police), which was not particularly fond of the work of the free-thinking twins.
In some of these photos it is impossible to overlook the ‘60s sex symbol and the then Saudek's fiancée, Olga Schoberova. The attractive star of the movie Limonádový Joe (Lemonade Joe) was regarded in Europe at that time as a serious contender to Ursula Andress. Among other roles she also starred as the beautiful Jessie in Miloš Macourek and Václav Vorlíček's comedy Kdo chce zabít Jessii? (Who wants to kill Jessie?), which kick started Saudek's official career. Besides comics-styled props Kája Saudek also designed the titles and all promotion materials for this film including a number of attractive free variations of both that are unknown to the public. All of them can be seen at the exhibition besides Saudek's unrivalled sexy drawings of Olga Schoberova who became the lead character in Saudek's comics ensemble. She also served as a model for the protagonist of the comic book Muriel a andělé (Muriel and Angels), which was in autumn of this year voted as the best Czech comics in history.
Last but not least, the exhibition presents a proof that the author can be viewed also as an original portraitist of a number of cultural figures. His advertising work for various music events and clubs, as well as his graphical concept for the cult Pop Music Expres magazine, for which he also created a number of illustrations, demonstrate that the artist was also adept in the advertising graphic design.
In conjunction with the exhibition a catalogue is published by the publishing house Arbor vitae. The exhibition is co-organized by Arbor vitae societas and the Czech Centre Praha.