Josef Sudek – Jakub Špaňhel: To Experience a Revelation

22/10/2021 to 06/02/2022
exhibition hall "13"
Helena Musilová
Marcela Štýbrová

This exhibition of works by Josef Sudek and Jakub Špaňhel, two acclaimed artists operating in different times and different media, has a unifying and powerful theme: St Vitus Cathedral in Prague, a place that is intimately connected with the history of the entire country and has helped to define the national identity.

Work on the Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert began in the mid-14th century and was finally completed in 1929. In 1927 Josef Sudek entered the cathedral, still under construction, and was enraptured (“I experienced a revelation”): the sunbeams and swirling dust inside the cathedral created a wonderful play of light and shadow. Over a period of two years Sudek produced his now legendary series of photographs from the cathedral, which included views of the central nave and numerous details of the interior during and after its completion.

The painter Jakub Špaňhel has also been fascinated by St Vitus Cathedral (and by churches in general) ever since he started painting, and his graduation project at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague was devoted to the cathedral. He has regularly returned to this theme, and to the people and legends associated with it. In doing so, he could not overlook Sudek’s photographs, and some of his canvases of St Vitus Cathedral have been directly inspired by Sudek’s vision of sunlight flooding the dusty cathedral.

The exhibition will present a single theme in two media that offer an equally intense spiritual experience. Josef Sudek’s rich and almost “Baroque” photographs will be superbly complemented by Jakub Špaňhel’s expressive paintings that render this place of worship almost as abstract art. Špaňhel will exhibit paintings from his very first series devoted to the cathedral, as well as new works created specifically for the exhibition in Pilsen. Like Sudek, he will also focus on certain details such as the cathedral’s characteristic pinnacles and the mosaic of the Last Judgement on the Golden Gate.