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Frantisek Janula

Frantisek Janula



František Janula born in Lysá nad Labem, Czechoslovakia, in 1932. He studied at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague from 1950 to 1955 and at L'École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1967 to 1968. He has lived in France since 1968 and has had 100 solo exhibitions and participated in about as many group exhibitions, especially in France and other EU countries. His works are parts of public and private collections in EU countries, Switzerland and the USA. He lives and works in Paris.

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I have been watching his work carefully for twenty years František Janula and I'm enthusiastic about seeing him set out for new adventures from a completely different starting point. Although my view of his work has already been formed I have to acknowledge that this new adventure is not a superficial pastime to while away tedious time; on the contrary, it is harmonically rooted in his previous adventures like a musical variation that creates a concerto. “Concerto grosso”. One moment he is attracted by the colour, the next moment by the line, and eventually, in unceasing circulation, by the space. We can see different aspects of the same creative effort take turns. I'm surprised that this process still has not been acknowledged as one of the most harmonic and innovative. However, one cannot be a great artist until one masters all the components of the composition of his or her images.

José Pierre, Paris 1991

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Although he was becoming famous in Prague, František Janula had the courage to leave in 1968, after his country had again fallen prey to dictatorship. After his arrival in Paris, deprived of everything, unable to speak French, he had to start from scratch. He had to accept occasional jobs to make ends meet and continue painting. I knew him during this hard time and did my best to help him. Then he painted small watercolours that he began to sell and printed graphic sheets whose fierce distinctiveness attracted me. Like all artists in need he would paint on anything he could get his hands on: wrapping paper, sheets, cardboard, isorel, cardboard and, when possible, classical canvas. This hardship at least enabled him to express himself on any material, which he did with exceptional imagination. Nowadays, Janula, whose talent has been acknowledged by numerous collectors and several galleries in France and abroad, works on different surfaces with unchanged concentration and enthusiasm. The result: painting of multilateral facets, where he remains himself and can always be recognized by his characteristic relation to the universe and space to which he holds his own key. Like a restless devil he eagerly handles different materials and combines them, he cuts, chops and slices, glues and composes colours, providing them with a relief of his own. I have been an awed and admiring witness of this unceasing creation for twenty years; Janula is a perfect and demanding artist, deeply original. In my opinion, he deserves to be counted among the great painters of our time.

Jean Orizet, Paris 1984

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I first encountered František Janula more than twenty years ago. He has never ceased to surprise and dazzle me since that time. He wields a miraculous power of permanent renewal, which makes him use the most diverse and least expected materials. He plays a solemn game with the elements, one might say. And this game is both dangerous and demanding. Painting is a risky leap. A painter either wins or loses the bet. This risk and this victory make Janula’s works all the more remarkable. This colourful work, often renewing itself, which began more than hundred years ago in Bohemia and continued in Paris after the Prague Spring of 1968, unwinds with an utter logic and harmony. As I have been Janula's advocate for more than twenty-five years, I rejoice at seeing his paintings return to his homeland. Knowing his adherence to his roots, I can imagine the emotions that are running away with him. At any rate he never gave up expressing them in his paintings after his arrival in Paris. I’m convinced that visitors to this exhibition will understand the sensitivity and poetry of this outstanding painter, the heir of his two great predecessors, Kupka and Šíma. He deserves to be ranked among them.

Francis Delille, Paris, 1999

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Janula’s painting is my most astonishing discovery. We have been surprised and dazzled by his explosive works for nearly forty years. His graphic sheets, drawings, gouaches, aquarelles and canvases or collages can make forms and hues shine with the same force that we can see in works for instance by Lanskoy, of whom Janula need not be jealous at all. One is also reminded of Braque at a certain stage of his development when his composition revealed majestic harmony. This twin comparison may seem flattering, but it is not. It merely indicates the position that Janula occupies in contemporary painting and that he will be awarded in many museums and perhaps even in museums in his homeland in the future.

I heartily congratulate him on this award.

Jean – Marc Natel, 22 July 2007, Paris


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