12. july 1923 – 24. february 1998
The exhibition in Gallery Závodný was prepared to commemorate his ninety-fifth birthday. The aim was to enable the contact with a very compact and existentially tuned artwork of an independent, thoughtful and intellectually oriented artist.
Reliefs and objects of Zbyněk Sekal were created in silence and absolute concentration. Stillness and attentive perception of details is also required from the viewer. Only this way will allow us to approach their almost spiritual, yet very rational and thoughtful nature.
The objects of Zbyněk Sekal resemble the Japanese Zen Gardens. Calmness, focused silence and the possibility of contemplation invite us for an interception in time and space. Perhaps that is why his exhibitions were always so greatly received in Japan.
Zbyněk Sekal grew up during World War II. As an active member of an illegal communist youth group he spent four years in concentration camps in Terezín and Mauthausen /1941-45/. After his studies at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague /1945 - 1950, professors F. Tichý, F. Muzika/ he visited Paris. Here he encountered the works of J. Dubuffet which made a great impression on him. This first creative period shows a strenuous search of his own way. An inspiration by cubism and surrealism is apparent in his drawings, numerous are series of figural motifs from the concentration camp.
In the years 1953 and 1958 he lived with his young family in Bratislava, however he missed the contact with the current Czech art scene and his close friends M. Medek, Z. Palcr, E. Medkova. Consequently, he was mainly involved in literary translations / F. Kafka, G. Grass, P. Weiss, O. Mandelstam, Ch. Morgenstern/.
In 1958, Zbyněk Sekal returned back to Prague, concentrating all his efforts into his composed reliefs, figural objects and wire structures, all created in his studio in Bělohorská Street. In 1966 he attended a sculptural symposium in St. Margarethen in Austria and in 1969, due to the political situation in Czechoslovakia, he emigrated to Berlin.
In 1970 he created a large wall relief in Düsseldorf and permanently settled in Vienna. Between 1972 and 1974 he taught at the Stuttgart Academy, later devoted himself exclusively to his artwork. In Vienna he continued to worked on his composed reliefs and also discoved a new subject – freely standing objects, cube-like cages.
The material used for the composed reliefs and cages were things and objects that had lost their original purpose, nevertheless the traces of human touch are still visible on them. Zbyněk Sekal collected those, searched for their original function and reused them as purely artistic material. He guarded their grace and mystery with awe, some of them being elevated into sacraments concealed inside relic-like objects, the eternal guardians.