Daniela Benešová

* 1929

  • “The resistance was strong there during WW II. My daddy would never tell us to what extent was he involved – he was scared. Perhaps my mum knew something but there were plenty of teachers at the school who ended up in concentration camps. One day, the Gestapo took daddy away and interrogated him. They must have thought that he would tell them something. But he as well as his friend, the teacher Kybic who later told us about it, would rather have them beat him than to tell them something. So he essentially saved daddy. But it left a mark on his health because his heart was weak. The war and the never-ending fear about some of us being imprisoned – be it for his activities or because of our relatives – were very stressful for him. We used to live across the street from the town hall in Janovice so we always saw the Gestapo arrive and only awaited whom they would take away this time.”

  • “I really have no idea what influenced my art work. I would personally love to know but I don’t. I suppose it must have been first and foremost my childhood. I assume that I was very lucky as a child to have the parents I had. For instance, my daddy taught me to observe the nature; he used to take me out and tell me stories about everything... I suppose this is where it all had its roots. I reckon that everyone is influenced by their childhood.“

  • “I love to recall Emil Filla from several points of view. First of all as a person who always used to come with his wife in his tiny car to do editing. He used to have two boxer dogs whom he loved. One of them was called Evička. They were blonde, beautiful boxers and we would pet them with our hands dirty from charcoal. Soon, the poor dogs were completely grey. But they were really likeable dogs. Prof. Filla would always just stand by, not saying much except for some short remarks. He never gave us much specific advice but I suppose we always somewhat grasped what was good and what was wrong about this or that. I also remember him as a very sad man, having such peculiar sadness in his eyes and laughing only rarely… Moreover, I remember him from our sessions. When I was in the third grade he was forced to lower the number of his students since he was unpopular with the regime. He had selected some fifteen students out of fifty or forty-five. Luckily, I was among them. He would then always gather us all on Friday nights to the studio and tell us stories. Up until darkness he would tell stories on everything, art and what not. He used to talk beautifully about Chinese art for example, about Caravaggio, about modern art. We would hold our breaths then.”

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    v Praze, 23.10.2015

    duration: 01:52:44
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To this day I relate music to colors

portrait of Daniela Benešová - 2015
portrait of Daniela Benešová - 2015
photo: ED

Daniela Benešová was born on 27 September 1929 in Klatovy as the second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hahn. She had spent a very happy childhood in Miřenice and later in Janovice nad Úhlavou where her father worked as a teacher. Prior to the war her parents brought her up so as to ensure that she and her sister would develop a good relationship towards the nature and life. They themselves were creative people, carving out puppets for the kids or writing and illustrating a regional chronicle. Following the outburst of the war, Daniela’s aunt from her mother’s side left the country with her whole family because of the Jewish descent of her husband Ludvík Kantůrek, a film producer and a friend of Hugo Haas and Jan Werich. Daniela’s mother’s mum stayed behind but the Gestapo soon imprisoned her in Svatobořice and she passed away shortly after release. Daniela’s father was active in the resistance. Fortunately, he was never exposed. In spite of it, the hardships of war and the post-war pressure for him to join the Communist Party left an imprint, and he died as soon as in 1950. Just after the war Daniela applied to a conservatory to study piano playing but was not admitted. Instead, she became fully engaged in drawing and in 1948 was admitted to the Academy of Arts, Design and Architecture in Prague. She used to live with the her uncle who had lost his parents and his sister in concentration camps and only survived thanks to his emigration to the US from where he and his family later returned. Daniela attempted to avoid the totalitarian dictate of communist art themes through exploring marginal topics. She had nevertheless been disappointed in her expectations. In any case she liked very much prof. Emil Filla whose atelier she had attended. She was also enriched by an honorary year spent at the atelier of Antonín Strnadel who introduced her to illustration. Her future husband Karel whom she had met at a summer job in Ostrava also studied there. They got married in 1958 and she eventually gave birth to son Pavel and daughter Petra. Daniela had illustrated over fifty predominantly children’s books, produced graphic arts and drawings, and always connected colors with music. Her works are included in many galleries and private collections both in the Czech Republic and abroad. She is a member of the Association of Czech Graphic Artists Hollar, Association of Prague Painters and Association of Free Graphics. She and her husband Karel Beneš live and work in Prague.