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Eva Chmelová

S hlavou v oblacích, Head in the Clouds Noc a den, Night and Day Tajemství bílých nocí, Mystery of White Nights Za hradbami našich snů, Beyond the Wall of Our Dreams Little Sumary ANNO 2000 Zlatý kříž, Golden Cross

When my long-time colleague and friend asked me to write few lines for her catalogue, I thought of how to begin, and a sentence immediately came to my mind: EVA IS A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN. Moreover, when I thought of what to say about her work, I could only think that EVA PAINTS BEAUTIFUL PAINTINGS.

Despite the fact that these two exclamations may seem simple, banal and laconic, I am not afraid to claim that they are pure truth. My experience in the first case still confirms that the saying “she is ugly like an academic painter” is valid in the local situation, and that in the second case when I know some good-looking painters, which is a rarity (forgive me for saying this), they usually paint “ugly paintings”.

This is why I claim that Eva is a unique case! She deserves attention not only for being pretty but also because beside all the hardships in her life and her duties as a mother, Eva has always kept her passion for painting and her dedication to creativity. In her paintings I can read her fights, wins and loses, resignations and emerging stimuli but also love, eroticism and other picquancies that will always please my eye.

Not many women, with all the respect, last with élan in this profession, since life usually leads them to a more important mission, which is irreplaceable in our world, and does not leave them with enough energy and time to return.

Eva made it and thus became an object of my admiration. I hope the same thing will happen to everyone who will get a chance to become familiar with her work.

Stefan Milkov, Letná 18. 10. 2003

Juicy fruits of exotic trees, details of a distant landscape, a desolate rolling drapery, acts of human bodies veiled by a twinkling screen of coloured light… Such may be the first impressions you get of the paintings of the artist Eva Chmelová. When looking in more detail, however, the viewer can see bewitching associations, compelling connections and tempting queries.

Eva Chmelová (born in 1962 in Bratislava) belongs to a generation that entered the Czech artistic scene in the late 1980s. After studying at AVU in Prague (1981 – 87) she started to present her work independently (sometimes together with Ivan Exner or Stefan Milkov) or at larger exhibitions. In 1989, together with colleagues from her generation, she founded the artistic group Tunel, which helped her to become more well-known. Representative presentations of this group in the Czech Republic (Mánes exhibition hall, V.Špály gallery, Obecní dům), and also abroad (Karlsruhe, Dortmund) were looked at with due attention. Since the mid-1990s, Eva Chmelová has been focused more on independent presentations rendering a larger scope for individual layered mythology. Chmelová is a substantive artist revering first and foremost traditional work with colour, which here is becoming one of the support pillars of her overall expression. The quality of work of prominent colourists is achieved by a combination of dense meshes and repeatedly applied sensitive penetrating glazes. A concentration on fixed texture and considered composition consciously distances unconnected randomness and unfounded experimentation.

The paintings of Eva Chmelová from the 1990s brought, within the scope of the post-modern trend, scenes connecting the present with the past – reflections based on the exempt morphology of signs and symbols. Beyond concrete time and space unfolded stories touching general human memory – an archetypal plain buried deep in our subconscious. Paintings of this seeker period (usually tuned in shades of brown and red inside black contours) harmonised Dionysos’ positions (instinctive, exciting, ecstatic, erotic) and Apollinaris’ ones (radiating, graceful, beautiful, hedonistic).

The newer works of the cultured and quite reserved introvert artist record a definite shift. Eva Chmelová diverts an unambiguous view from primeval essences to a kind of more civil (although never first-plan) existence. It seems that she is living more in the present, with concrete sensations, experiences and memories, which are returning to the experienced “right now”. She connects her evident love of colour with clearly articulated forms of various details of reality flowing on a gently twinkling canvas. In this way the viewer is often offered an original rebus, hieroglyphic story, small plays or sneaky riddles. Here we can see naked human figures (rather anonymous types) in groups or curled up in intimate solitude, often also fruit and vegetables. Magnificent garnet apples and spicy red peppers entered into the artist’s accustomed iconography in this way, as well as drapes inducing an atmosphere of secrecy and unfinished situations or confusing illusions.

The artist in kinds of mosaics puts next to each other light privatissimos, decorative fascinations, and ambivalent details. Colourful surface designs are separated by subjects extracted from former contexts, a fiery pole is at one moment confronted by a fruit cut in half, reminding of the women nude bent of desire in the neighbourhood. The paintings of Eva Chmelová are ‘sophisticated’ in the correct meaning of the word – full of penetration, suggestions, references, privately known reality and intimate corners; they are melancholically dreamy, sometimes sour and at other times sweet, open and enclosed – they are a multi-layered reflection clearly in connection with the viewer’s personal life experience.

Radan Wagner, 2004