Location: Czech Republic
Jiří Máška was born in 1951 in Ražice, a small town in South Bohemia, Czech Republic. He has been an artist since his early childhood. His grandfather noticed Jiří’s talent and arranged for him to meet a friend of his, painter Říhánek. Říhánek taught Jiří the fundamentals of composition and colours, artistic sense, and the perception of art as a whole. Jiří’s mother supported her son’s work, buying him the best paints, brushes, and other art supplies. Říhánek stayed with his student until Jiří was 10. At that time, Jiří began to take painting classes with another painter, Jiří Rejžek, in the town of Strakonice. Rejžek taught Jiří until he was16, and then he supported Jiří’s application to the Arts school in Prague.
At the Arts school, Máška studied under Professor Janoch. After graduation in Prague, Máška returned to South Bohemia where he worked as Head of Promotion at the Park of Culture and Relaxation in České Budějovice.
Máška and several of his friends who were painters and sculptors, created an art group. They displayed art that was unacceptable by the Communist regime—the ruling government of the time. The Communist authorities closed down the group’s exhibition in 1983, which they followed by police harassment. This meant denying Máška the chance for publicity, because he could not display his art, and this also hampered his artistic development. In order to live, Máška needed to paint and express himself freely, so he left the country and immigrated to the United States. There he studied painting with Professor Hanson at Everett College in Washington.
Upon finishing his studies with Professor Hansen, Máška displayed his paintings in the Jackson Street Gallery in Seattle, Washington. The reaction to the exhibition was unambiguous, both by the public and critics—right away, Máška was offered to exhibit in New York.
After his exhibition in New York in the Ariel Gallery, a prestigious New York art magazine,Manhattan Arts, ran a full page feature on Máška. Renée Phillips, the Chief Editor, asked renowned art critic Elizabeth A. Witford to review the exhibition:
“The paintings by Jiří Máška are wild utterances of his creative spirit. He can paint both pictures that remind us of wood carvings, and pictures that are unbelievably delicate, more delicate than Japanese parchments. Máška has found a new speech, universal and concrete at the same time. It is a speech from soul to soul and it includes noises and thoughts that catch other thoughts and attract and pervade each other. The fantastic rhythm of Máška’s pictures, their composition, and quality remind one of works by the famous abstract expressionist Arshile Gorky. A new star is rising for all those who love art.”
Elizabeth A. Wilford, Art Critic
Máška displayed his paintings in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver, Paris, Monaco, Prague, Hong Kong, Macau, and other cities. His original works are admired by people in many countries all over the world.
Art Critics‘ Reactions to Máška’s Exhibitions:
“We have a unique chance to discover a new generation of world art.”
Renée Phillips, Chief Editor, Manhattan Arts
“To understand Máška’s art? His expressions mean suggestiveness, colour, and the blinding execution of the technique, creating colour structures on the surface, charged with tension and power, love and hate, happiness and defeat, or merely a colourful mass. His painting is based on a detail picture of the human situation in the world, his life in time and space. Máška’s work is an artist’s confession, a witness testimony and a message. Máška is a painter par excellence, not only for the magical power of his colours, but also because he renews the essential features of painting as an art expression; he carries content, theme, meaning, plot, events, and action. His use of elementary means of painting as a matter of course speaks of a strong artist‘s individuality.”
Lawson Curtis, Art Critic
“Jiří Máška remains faithful to his artistic inspiration. He develops his idea with a merciless thoroughness; he does not flirt with modern or commercial trends, nor does he bow to the external pressures of a consumer society, which he despises. At the same time, he is contemporary in reacting to the impulses of time, place, skies, earth, and sea. That requires a hugely strong character, as well as a well-founded and reliably functioning intellect. Máška succeeds in avoiding theatrical pathos, extreme subjectivism, sentimentality, and self-serving cult of emotion. Out of emotion, he creates signs of tornados, people, and animals cast on the canvas. Máška has the rare gift to create fate out of events; the depth of his ideas, sovereignty and originality makes his work a suggestive drama.”
Gender Hopkins, Art Critic
“In Máška’s art, a western rationalist element mingles with the eastern culture, mentality, and inner harmony in a remarkable way. Also with his big Slavic heart and Slavic art tradition, the art seems incredible, especially to western art critics.”
Clode Epperlund, Art Critic
“Jiří Máška came and conquered America by means of pure, the purest art, which wells out from his heart like a fountain. The uncompromising approach and thoroughness with which Máška follows and tries to express his artistic idea are essential in his work. He does not lack an artistic perception for tradition, and he uncovers the deeper connections between the present and the past by embracing geographic specifics, and an ability that, in the last instance determines the quality of art work and individual power of a painter-intellectual.”
Lowell A. Hanson, Art Professor
“Anxious perfection is not the main feature of a genius; it is originality, opening or shifting of new borders.”
I.J. Cossman, Art Dealer
About the Times of Communism and Today:
Máška says, “It was a tragedy. I was born an artist, and I could see myself as two separate persons. I could only observe the wild, crazy person from a distance who dictated my moods and topics of my pictures. My technique is difficult to classify according to the ordinary, conventional techniques. I start a painting with detergent mixed with latex, the next layer consists of temperas and watercolours, and in the end, I paint with oil and varnish. I personally love impressionists, but I also admire many surrealists and abstract painters.”
After the “1989 Democratic Revolution”, Máška repatriated to the Czech Republic. He believed in a new beginning. However, several years had passed and he saw that the old Communist criminals remained in the government—the police, judicial courts, and other government agencies. Worse yet, the former Communists were soon on a rebound. Under the disguise of Socialists and other political parties, they began to return to power in his native country. That was the last straw for Máška. He left his country again, but this time, he moved to the island of Roatan, Honduras, where he feels completely free. He often travels between Honduras, Belize, and the United States and spends only a minimum amount of time in the Czech Republic. From his studio, he sends joy in his paintings to all the people who love his work. And now it is you who has an opportunity to discover the NEW GENERATION OF ART, even if only on your computer screen.
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