The Prague Alphabet

From October 22 to December 1, 2010

The word of the author

“I could have gone to Paris immediately after the war, but I did not want. I was aware that I did not know how to watch or how to see. I was immature.”
(From the book: Ljubisav Andrić, “A Talk With Milan Konjović”, New 6, 1985.)

Drawing is the basis of artistic expression and is older than writing. It is a graphical representation of a shape, object or phenomenon, made by graphic means — lines, blots and spots. It can be done as a study or croquis (sketch). The pure linearity can be achieved through the combination of the graphical elements (merging lines and spots and their mutual contrast) and the plasticity and three–dimensionality through the effects of shadows and light.

The world’s greatest artists like Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Dürer, Rubens, Ingres, Lautrec, Picasso, and Matisse were passionate draftsmen.

Akt (1920)

The 28 exhibited works done in academic style, created mainly between 1919 and 1920, represent Konjović’s studies of drawings, portraits and nudes. His works, influenced by Leonardo, are an example of mastered line, light and shadow. The classic drawing (necessary and unavoidable in academic education and learning) Konjović often called frigid. Although he made such disciplined drawings with great patience persistence, he hasn’t seen himself and in them.

When remembering his studies in Prague, Konjović often talked very emotionally about the beautiful city and its open–hearted inhabitants. He enrolled the Academy of Fine Arts, in the class of Professor Vlaho Bukovac, with great expectations. 1919 was also the year when he met the love and inspiration of his life; the greatest support in his creative work, Ema Maštovska.

Studija glave (1920)

At the Academy he worked hard on the studies of drawings and paintings. He was patient and persistent in learning the basics of artistic expression and the painting craft. He created a remarkable number of studies of drawings, croquis and sketches there.

He was very disappointed when Professor Vlaho Bukovac corrected his works for the first time. He made a difficult decision — to leave the academy and the teacher from whom he expected more. Konjović called this act the confrontation with himself.

He went to the famous Czech painter Jan Zrzavy, who was not a professor and did not deal with teaching. When Zrzavy saw Konjović’s drawings, he saw the great potential and talent in him. He gladly agreed to help him and made corrections of Konjović’s works. On that occasion Konjović was advised to imitate Leonardo. Konjović gladly remembered the helpful advice and generous help given from the great Czech painter.

Glava (1919)

Restless spirit and a strong desire for improvement had led Konjović to Vienna, where he resided from 1921 to 1922. He continued to create works in the spirit of neoclassicism, often visited museums and spent time with artists Tartaglia, Cota and Turkalj. After he had returned to Sombor, Konjović painted his first cubist works.

He was constantly on the move between Sombor, Vienna and Prague. In 1924, the search for his own artistic expression, finally led him to Paris.

He often said:

“… Exactly. It is true that I mastered art in Paris and its alphabet in Prague. I’ve learned the things that could be learned, and forgotten the things I didn’t need. I left myself to freedom, infinity and playing with all this art knowledge. I paid dearly for my artistic independence, freedom.”
(From the book: Ljubisav Andrić, “A Talk With Milan Konjović”, New 6, 1985.)

Nebojša Vasić, academically trained painter

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