Umělec magazine 2001/1 >> The Realistic Obsessions of a Recluse List of all editions.
The Realistic Obsessions of a Recluse
Umělec magazine
Year 2001, 1
6,50 EUR
Send the printed edition:
Order subscription

The Realistic Obsessions of a Recluse

Umělec magazine 2001/1


Lenka Lindaurová | profile | en cs

"Most Czechs are familiar with the ironic drawings that depict on the cover of Respekt the less-than-encouraging phenomena of our post-totalitarian society. This political and cultural weekly was originally the samizdat publication Informační Servis whose contributors included the current politician and Senator Jiří Ruml. Pavel Reisenauer, an artist of brilliant style, is the man behind the tens of thousands of drawings published there over the past eleven years.
As far as general knowledge goes, Reisenauer only took part in two regular exhibitions in the 1990s. And even then he was only there to complement the themes young visual artists were concerned with. Two years ago, the commercial space Gallery was supposed to put together a solo exhibition, but it never happened. Gallery is mainly known for putting on such blockbuster shows as Josef Lada and was counting on Reisenauer’s media image. His cartoons/illustrations are accurate, poignant and apparently comprehensible. In meaning they could be considered caricatures, but formally they represent realistic and even academically masterful drawings. To this day, however, the art community continues to recognize him only as a cartoonist and his more formal work remains almost unknown.

An Anti-media Weirdo

A big exhibition, any exhibition, in fact, would be appropriate for his exceptional format and would elevate Reisenauer to the status of a national hero, but would probably not do his work any favors. He is one of the few painters who separates his work into two spheres: one pays the bills (always remembering that not many are fortunate enough to have such a pleasant job), the other is for his enjoyment. In his work he doesn’t have to think even for a moment about the art “industry,” and he can fully engage himself in his art, which he thinks about in idealistic terms: “I’m trying to chuck out all the idiocies and jokes.” Reisenauer winds up somewhere outside conceptual painting, outside realistic work, in romantic meanderings of unconscious creative passion. He resolutely rejects fame, immortality, popularity and criticism. Because he paints popular scenes such as spontaneous intercourse in front of the main train station, breast feeding, oral sex and genital shaving, he stands out as a genuine recluse and loner. He will one day become a ragingly bitter old man who will not let anyone get close to him and whose work will become his personal consolation (deviation?). Perhaps it is this position that protects him from the general skepticism concerning contemporary art’s ability to express something meaningful, skepticism coming from a certain superficiality and marginality of the artistic language.
Understanding Reisenauer’s work outside the context of Respekt poses the biggest challenge for a viewer. His position as an illustrator and intelligent commentator is as stigmatizing as Woody Allen’s self-imposed role in film. Just as it is hard to imagine that intellectual addict of psychoanalysis as the primitive, tasteless thief that he played in his latest film, each new role Pavel Reisenauer assumes is seen as part of a kind of cliché. Thus does a kind of absurd grotesque take shape, informed somewhat by the stereotypical Czech characteristics of Švejk, Kafka and so on.

From an Alien’s Photo Album

His smaller format paintings are mostly figurative and narrative. At the beginning of the 1990s they often contained writing which made reference to certain illustrations or mini advertisements. The message was more tragicomic than deep. But Reisenauer did not renounce image symbolism. An extensive series of paintings he made about three years ago took a solid step out of the prison of the textual story and are something like photographic snapshots that capture a foolish, out-of-time Czech world. This black and white photo album made with paste-like oil includes Papa Masaryk, a scene from the Slovak national uprising, the Beatles tripping over a pedestrian crossing, UFOs landing, a swan and the Czech children’s character Ferda the Ant. Working such a long time for a black and white weekly is not the reason for his minimal use of color. His intention is to express something through a medium without personal engagement, as in press agency illustrations. Only one theorist has taken notice of the inter-medial nature of his work, something that especially disturbs art historians.
“Reisenauer negates and supports painting at the same time. It is neither painting nor photography. A sloppy, amateurish style, black and white creating a consistently gray scale and often made-up motifs, nothing more. Yet he creates an illusion of authentic reality, something photography or a hyper-realistic portrayal could hardly achieve...” (Pavla Pečinková: What Rei Stands For, Umění a řemesla issue 3/00).
Reisenauer’s newspaper caricatures, paradoxically technically perfect, almost in the style of Max Švabinský, openly admit their purpose. The realistic drawings contain comic-style voice bubbles, and with only a superficial reading, the whole scene manages to document the emptiness of contemporary political rhetoric. Reisenauer has no respect for anyone or anything, but he uses vulgarisms marginally, only in the background, in the third dimension of the drawing. He applies in his paintings what he learned from journalism, which includes his technical precision. (Since 1994 he’s used only a computer for his magazine work.) His titles often emphasize his desire for the ironic commentary that is inherent in the subtext: The Dawn of Magicians is a painting of a flying saucer in a deserted landscape. Other times a message is contained in the selection of unambiguously understood symbols: the Beatles, say, or a specific scene from a well-known film by Voskovec and Werich.

Death After Life and Life Now

Preceding this peculiar style of gray paintings was another strange work that cannot be compared to newspaper caricatures or book illustrations (a number of writers and publishers asked Reisenauer to illustrate their books at the end of the 1990s). Drawn with a light hand, the graphic novel Death After Life uses an unusual format and represents his most cryptic work to date. The breakneck story that takes place after the main character’s death is a fine weave of philosophical and biblical sentences that intertwine with coarse parallels in the most idiotic ways, almost as if Reisenauer himself had experienced clinical death and decided to reveal its cruel truth. Death After Life is perhaps a key moment in Reisenauer’s work because in his later life he no longer has to play with immortality.
His latest work is a part of his gray series, represented most characteristically by the UFO cycle, without narrative and, for the time being, completely non-figurative. Miniature hardwood boards are covered with an extremely glossy, painted layer of oil, with scenes portraying kitschy rock landscapes. He no longer balances emotionally the media scales of reality and photography, rather he reaches somewhere into the depths of the unconscious, where the strangest obsessions visualize themselves. But it seems inappropriate to give such a perverse label to works by an artist who has so radically calmed down in his painting. Unless he really knows what it looks like behind the fateful wall.

Translated by Vladan Šír

Pavel Reisenauer
Reisenauer (b. 1961) completed secondary education. Since 1991, he has worked as an illustrator at Respekt.

Staré Hrady, 1988; Gallery K, Prague, 1990; Ženské domovy, Prague, 1992; Václav Špála Gallery, Prague, 1995; Train Station, Prague, 1995; Seven Years of Respekt, Archa Theater, Prague, 1997; Richter Villa, Prague, 1997

Book Illustrations:
Petr Placák, Medorek, Lidové noviny, 1991
Egon Bondy: Gottschalk, Krates, Jao Li, special edition, 1991
Lois Dribin: Dobrá chuť, Radost, 1993
Egon Bondy: Hatto, special edition, 1995
Pavel Reisenauer: Death After Life, Divus, 1995
Minulý týden, Respekt, 1996
Woody Allen: Vedlejší účinky, Argo, 1996
Arthur Bloch: Murphyho zákon, Argo, 1998
Arthur Bloch: Murphyho zákon 2000, Argo, 1999
Jeden svět, (Člověk v tísni), Argo, 1999
Magda Vašáryová: Diskrétní průvodce, Pragma, 1999
Michal Viewegh: Nové nápady laskavého čtenáře, Petrov, 2000
Petr Jarchovský: Musíme si pomáhat, Paseka, 2000
Michal Horáček: Los a sázka, Fortuna, 2000
Viktor Šlajchrt: Suroviny laskominy, Millenium Publishing, 2000
Petr Placák: Cestou za dobrodružstvím, Babylon, 2001

Book Covers:
Richard S. Prather: Zítra mě sejmou, Paseka, 1994
Charles Bukowski: Poštovní úřad, Pragma, 1996
Douglas Adams: Holistická detektivní kancelář Dirka Gentlyho, Argo, 1997
Maxim Biller: Harlem Holocaust, KiWi, 1998
Leon de Winter: Hoffmanův hlad, Rybka Publishing, 2000
Arthur Bloch: Murphyho zákon a lékaři, Argo, 2000
Thomas van Trolleybus: Murphy cestuje, Argo, 2000



There are currently no comments.

Add new comment

Recommended articles

The Top 10 Czech Artists from the 1990s The Top 10 Czech Artists from the 1990s
The editors of Umělec have decided to come up with a list of ten artists who, in our opinion, were of crucial importance for the Czech art scene in the 1990s. After long debate and the setting of criteria, we arrived at a list of names we consider significant for the local context, for the presentation of Czech art outside the country and especially for the future of art. Our criteria did not…
Nick Land – An Experiment in Inhumanism Nick Land – An Experiment in Inhumanism
Nick Land was a British philosopher but is no longer, though he is not dead. The almost neurotic fervor with which he scratched at the scars of reality has seduced more than a few promising academics onto the path of art that offends in its originality. The texts that he has left behind are reliably revolting and boring, and impel us to castrate their categorization as “mere” literature.
No Future For Censorship No Future For Censorship
Author dreaming of a future without censorship we have never got rid of. It seems, that people don‘t care while it grows stronger again.
Contents 2016/1 Contents 2016/1
Contents of the new issue.
04.02.2020 10:17
Where to go next?
out - archeology
S.d.Ch, Solitaires and Periphery Culture (a generation born around 1970)
S.d.Ch, Solitaires and Periphery Culture (a generation born around 1970)
Josef Jindrák
Who is S.d.Ch? A person of many interests, active in various fields—literature, theater—known for his comics and collages in the art field. A poet and playwright foremost. A loner by nature and determination, his work doesn’t meet the current trends. He always puts forth personal enunciation, although its inner structure can get very complicated. It’s pleasant that he is a normal person and a…
out - poetry
THC Review and the Condemned Past
THC Review and the Condemned Past
Ivan Mečl
We are the fifth global party! Pítr Dragota and Viki Shock, Fragmenty geniality / Fragments of Charisma, May and June 1997. When Viki came to visit, it was only to show me some drawings and collages. It was only as an afterthought that he showed me the Czech samizdat publication from the late 1990s, THC Review. When he saw how it fascinated me, he panicked and insisted that THAT creation is…
To hen kai pán (Jindřich Chalupecký Prize Laureate 1998 Jiří Černický)
To hen kai pán (Jindřich Chalupecký Prize Laureate 1998 Jiří Černický)
birthing pains
Who’s Afraid of Motherhood?
Who’s Afraid of Motherhood?
Zuzana Štefková
Expanding the definition of “mother” is also a space for reducing pressure and for potential liberation.1 Carol Stabile The year was 2003, and in the deep forests of Lapák in the Kladno area, a woman in the later phase of pregnancy stopped along the path. As part of the “Artists in the Woods” exhibit, passers-by could catch a glimpse of her round belly, which she exposed especially for them in…
Books, video, editions and artworks that might interest you Go to e-shop
S.d.Ch.: Varlén's Pantheon, 99,5 x 69 cm, collage and drawing
More info...
900 EUR
V této autorské knize propojuje Martin Zet viditelné / hmatatelné / uskutečněné / formulované, do jednoho celku
More info...
Subscription with discounted postage.
More info...
55 EUR
Limited edition of 10. Size 100 x 70 cm. Black print on durable white foil.
More info...
75 EUR


Divus and its services

Studio Divus designs and develops your ideas for projects, presentations or entire PR packages using all sorts of visual means and media. We offer our clients complete solutions as well as all the individual steps along the way. In our work we bring together the most up-to-date and classic technologies, enabling us to produce a wide range of products. But we do more than just prints and digital projects, ad materials, posters, catalogues, books, the production of screen and space presentations in interiors or exteriors, digital work and image publication on the internet; we also produce digital films—including the editing, sound and 3-D effects—and we use this technology for web pages and for company presentations. We specialize in ...

Citation of the day. Publisher is not liable for any mental and physical states which may arise after reading the quote.

Enlightenment is always late.
CONTACTS AND VISITOR INFORMATION The entire editorial staff contacts



Arch 8, Resolution Way, Deptford

London SE8 4NT, United Kingdom
Open on appointment


7 West Street, Hastings
East Sussex, TN34 3AN
, United Kingdom
Open on appointment

Ivan Mečl, +44 (0) 7526 902 082

Kyjov 37, 407 47 Krásná Lípa
Czech Republic
+420 222 264 830, +420 602 269 888

Open daily 10am to 6pm
and on appointment.


Potsdamer Str. 161, 10783 Berlin
Germany, +49 (0) 1512 9088 150
Open on appointment.



Divus New book by I.M.Jirous in English at our online bookshop.