Václav Bláha

* 1949  

  • “What preceded it was, I think it was after the young artists’ exhibition in 1968, which took place in Špála Gallery, where the pictures of several artists were arrested. They just seized the paintings that were there. They didn’t allow us to display them. They withheld the pictures. That’s why I said they arrested them, it was so bizarre. They said we were people who should be treated and that we should be re-educated. That the art was good but wrong. I know there was a big discussion around it, because things were loosening up back then. It caused a big commotion. Some four days later they allowed us to take the pictures back because they had already been pulled from the exhibition, and so there wasn’t one any more.”

  • “Everyone received a scholarship after school. The kind that you get for three months, everyone got it. And then there was the creative scholarship, which was granted by the Fine Artists’ Fund or Union based on an assessment of your work. And I didn’t pass. I didn’t pass [the selection - trans.], so I didn’t get any scholarship. I wasn’t accepted into the Fine Artists’ Fund, I was merely registered and had to find myself a job. My dad helped me with that, so I became contract teacher at a secondary school. It was a whole new life. A big turning point at university was also that I married in my second-last year, so I started a family life that lasted seven years and produced one child.”

  • “And then came a pleasant surprise from the teaching staff, because they were asked to sign the Anti-Charter [a text denouncing Charter 77 by notable artists under state coercion - trans.]. They summoned us all to the staff room, the whole teaching staff. And the headmaster came in and started laying out all the sauce, that the Charter was [made by] some renegades and enemies of Socialism and that the Anti-Charter is being signed by all active citizens who disagree with the Charter, which is bad. Well, and I must say that the teaching staff refused it as one man or one woman. They said they wouldn’t sign it. That none ofthem had read or seen the Charter. That they should bring them the Charter, so they could read it, and then they would sign [the Anti-Charter]. But that was a Pyrrhic victory. When the headmaster found out what had happened, he went to his office and signed it for all of us. He took it on himself and wrote that the whole teaching staff is against the Charter, or whatnot. And that was that.”

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    Praha, 07.04.2017

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    Praha, 15.02.2017

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I tried to show what was wrong in society

Václav  Bláha
Václav Bláha
photo: Pamět národa - Archiv

Václav Bláha was born on 1 April 1949 in Prague. He inherited his talent and passion for art from his father, Václav Bláha, a respected book designer. In 1964 he graduated from the Secondary Vocational School of Art in Prague and went on to study monumental art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. Although he earned his degree in 1974, he was not accepted into the Fine Artists’ Fund, nor did he receive any scholarship money, which was a standard means of supporting artists during Socialism. This was because he had never joined the Socialist Youth Union or the Communist Party, and he was openly critical of Communist ideals. He was briefly employed as a secondary-school teacher and then worked as a restorer. He co-founded the artistic association 12/15 Better Late Than Never, which organised exhibitions and artistic gatherings in the 1980s. He was never a recognised artist of the regime; Communist functionaries described his works as unsuitable, perhaps because he endeavoured to express his feelings and opinions on what he considered wrong about Socialist society. Besides painting, he also created art installations. One of them, Průnik (Intersection), was displayed in Charlotte in the US. Another of his works, Evropský dům (European House), stands in the country outside of Eschlkam in Germany. After 1989 he devoted his time to the administration of his family’s property, and he saw to the renovation of Prčice Hall, which was returned to his wife’s family in restitution.