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Pavel Kryz



Pavel Kříž was born in 1959 in Prague. His parents come from middle-class families. His father’s father was a left-wing intellectual and antifascist during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. He was arrested and died in a concentration camp. His grandmother had to bring the three children up on her own.

In 1950s his father Karel Kříž was forced by the situation to work as a miner in the uranium mines in Příbram. Later he worked as an electrician in a building company.

His mother Irena Křížová /Uhrová/ comes form a mixed Czech-German marriage. The family of a small businessman lived in the Sudetten, but in 1939 it moved to Prague. After the war they did not go back to the Sudetten. Though the family clearly proved their resistance against Nazism during the occupation, it was discriminated by the communist regime after the war. None of the parents were allowed to study. Nobody from the family was a member of the Czech Communist Party (KSČ).

Childhood 1959–1974

Pavel Kříž spent his early childhood in Velká Chuchle, which was an idyllic Prague suburb at the time. With his brother and parents they lived in a divided flat in the same block-of-flats as his grand parents. His grandfather worked as a janitor for a long time and also he was running the local cinema in the basement of the house. As a child Pavel Kříž spent a lot of time in the projection room, so he watched almost all films of the era. He discovered the new, charming and fast developing world of film. The town was full of contracts, colourful inhabitants, Sunday holiday visitors, former and present horse racers, landholders and horse breeders. Among the clearest memories of his early childhood are the black-and-white movies, summer swimming in the Vltava River, streets with horses and the wide horse racing course, which was busy each Sunday with the horse racing fans.

The rural idyll of climbing trees and wandering the local woods and orchards ended in summer 1967, when the whole family moved to a new flat in the settlement on the other bank of Vltava. The era of rural life was over. A new time started, living in the newly born urban periphery. Both the setting and the proprieties changed. Orchards, meadows and forests were replaced with gross constructions of houses with scaffoldings, deep elevator shafts, ditches full of water, protruding pipes and piles of cables.

Like most Prague children he experienced the 1968/9 parade of occupation tanks, collecting the tri-colour ribbons and watching the bullets in the façade of the National Museum.

Years 1968–74 were times of a schizophrenic society, when people talked differently at home and differently in the school or in the public. He noticed these things only little, because at this time, the main focus of his leisure was drawing and painting.

In 1974 he applied for the "Secondary School of Fine Arts" (nicknamed Hollar school) – now the Václav Hollar Secondary School of Fine Arts. Thought he was successful in the entrance talent exams, he was not accepted due to his family background. He spent the next six months in the Pražačka Grammar School. He considers this period the most difficult in his life.

Hollar School

In the middle of the first school year he changed school – to the Hollar School. Under the leadership of prof. J.Vondráček this school was quite the antipode of the normalization grammar school. The world became bright again and studies suddenly came to have a purpose. At the age of 16 he met a collective of friends and later colleagues keen on fine arts. Over the four years he familiarised with all the graphic and painting techniques, basics of photography, sculpture and modelling. He used to stay at school late at night with his friends to use the best of the good working conditions, which they enjoyed at the school. These were the best years of study. After the secondary school leaving exam (maturita) he was accepted to AVU to study painting art.


After two years of preparatory study, where the realistic painting and drawing was trained, in the third grade he came to the figural painting atelier of prof. K. Souček. There he met a strong positive atmosphere and relative freedom of artistic expression, which was guaranteed by the personality of prof. K. Souček. Souček was already ill at the time, but he used to be a bon–vivant, a member of the Group 42. He came just in time to experience the last years of the Prague AVU before the old generation of artists left and were replaced by a more practical new generation. In 1985 he graduated from AVU and he was awarded an AVU prize for his thesis. It was a cycle of paintings about female nudes "Models", a preparatory cardboard for a stone mosaic and an illustration for the book "Seven Floors" by Dino Buzzati.

Family / Work 1986–1992

After the mandatory military training (Slovakia 1985/1986) a son was born to him, he married and tried to feed his family by illustrating books, participation in fellowships and by sale of paintings.

His first exhibition in the Club of Writers (Klub spisovatelů) was actually an overview of illustrations and the same was true about his other exhibition in the Macromolecular Chemistry Institute. In these years he started to sign his paintings by an alias KRYZ. Since 1987 he has been working also as a restorer of mural paintings. This work solved his money problems and also granted him creative freedom untainted by censorship. There he strayed away from figural painting and started looking for new artistic forms in decorative art. He started creating dense webs on his paintings and on the almost monochromatic paintings he built a strange unique changing world of imaginary outputs.

This creative period culminated in 1991/1992 at his fellowship in Tessino, Switzerland. There he created a number of timeless paintings on transparent materials and woven decorative textiles. He prepared genre xerocopies and worked with old photographs. At the end of this stay he was exhibiting the work created there in the "Pallazo Morettini" in Locarno.

The birth of his daughter (1992) made him return to Bohemia among his friends and colleagues (J. Žáček, V. Merta, M. Titlová, P. Malovaný) and also to restoration of mural paintings. In Tessino he discovered and tried a number of artistic forms and techniques, which he used in his later career. He presented these forms in a very successful exhibition "ZVISCHENZEIT" in the gallery Behémont (1992).

In the next years, due to the newly discovered painting experience, he focused at minimalist attitude to painting. He does black–n–white painting /ČERNOBÍLÁ, gal.Future 1993/, he does collages of photographs of once movie stars /FORMÁLIE, gal. Nová síň 1994, KOLÁŽE, gal. Atrium,1995/ and paints white paint on transparent silk cloth. This period culminates in the 1998 exhibition "BÍLÁ" in the Pecka gallery.

From his return from Tessino, until 2000 he was realising his ideas from Tessino. During these years his formal and colouring work absolutely cleansed from the older school influences. Once he left the collective of authors of the gallery Behémont (1994) he got rid even of the pressure of the artistic community, which used to claim the world–reputation of the work crated by the communist–era artists.

The years 1999–2001 represent a milestone. He abandoned the intellectual form and instead focused on the painting itself. A painting which brings joy and is absolutely free and dissimilar to any work he ever created before. In the first paintings (2001) he tested the new artistic tools and was inspired by the classical works of art (Ingres and Giorgione). The paintings "Venuše" (Venus) and "Odaliska" (Odalisque) reflect the new figural language of his work. In this era he fully comes back to realistic art, especially figural art, which he studied at school and which now reverberates strongly in his workings. In years 2001–2002 also his family life changes. He divorced and moved away from his family into a flat, which serves also as an atelier to him later.


Since 2007 he has an atelier in his flat. At that time a complete explosion of creativity was set off. As if he had slept for years and now felt the need to compensate for all these years. What is more, the spectrum of work is very wide now. He paints landscapes, idylls, portraits as well as street life images. He records sceneries from movies, photographs and transforms them into abstract motifs, which finally recombine to form a realistic unit. He discovered there is a new freedom of expression in realistic painting. Painting becomes an independent tool of expression, without any patronizing of the audiences. The image builds the feelings and relations to the viewer itself. The author amplifies the experience from the visual look at things around us, serves it to the viewer with confidence, that the image will find its own path to the heart of the viewer. He does just the painting. The content of his images consists now only of the topic or theme. The form of the painting elevates it above any speculations and artistic ideology. For him the image exists as an independent work of art. His beach paintings thus show only the sun and people on a sand beach. The figures individually have no meaning, they are only a glimmering reflection of the light serenity.

Each of his paintings becomes sort of a mantra, in which people can rejoice or weep. Without expressive gestures he creates canvases, which have a life of their own, beg for total attention of the viewer, and totally entrap his heart. Late 2008 and year 2009/10 are a very fruitful period. He paints what he always wanted to and the paint becomes a tool of communication between himself and the viewers.