academic painter Josef Hošna

* 1926  †︎ 2022

  • “(František Pulec) one day showed me a small painting, which depicted his mother with a little son, a one-year-old baby, stylized as baby Jesus. I asked him: ‘Why didn’t you show me this earlier? It is quite nice.’ He knew why he did not show it to me. He went with this painting to Mr. Pokorný, believing that Pokorný was the university president. But it was actually Mr. Holý was already the president at that time. František propped the painting against a ladder in Pokorný’s studio. Pokorný had a mistress in there, and when she saw it, she exclaimed: ‘Oh, this is beautiful!’ Pokorný told him: ‘You know, I am not the president anymore. You need to go to Holý.’ František Pulec thought that it was only the mistress who liked the painting, but that Pokorný did not like it. Before he went to talk to Holý, he decided that he had to show him some other painting. He had a large life-size portrait of his wife. He depicted her wearing a white richly decorated collar, similar to what old Dutch masters painted. The painting was in a frame and it was heavy and his son helped him carry it. They placed the portrait in front of president’s office and they called Holý. Holý came out to look at it and as he noticed the picture, he began studying the collar from up close so that his nose was nearly touching the canvas. He remarked: ‘Your son did not paint that collar.’ He thought that it was his son who wanted to take the entrance examination for the academy, because František was already over forty years old. ‘Not my son! I want to take the entrance exam!’ ‘How old are you?’ ‘Forty.’ ‘You are too old to be admitted.’ Professor Španiel, the sculptor, walked by and the president told him: ‘This gentleman is forty years old and he still wants to take entrance examinations for the academy.’ Španiel asked: ‘He made this painting? He should have already been here a long time ago.’ František could not go to Holý’s studio, because Holý would not want to have him there. He thus showed the painting to Nechleba and Nechleba told him: ‘I accept you to this school without exams and on my own responsibility!”

  • “When I was defending my thesis, the chairman of the committee was Vlastimil Rada, who knew me from the first year of my studies. When he saw my work Memento 42, he asked me a question: ‘Why did you choose such a difficult topic? You cannot have experienced anything like that.’ I told him: ‘Sir, during the war, in 1942 during the terror after Heydrich’s assassination, as I walked from the train station in mornings, every day I read new listings of people who were executed for approving of the assassination. I read it every day. One day I even read that an entire family had been shot, including their son who was sixteen, just like me.’ ‘You don’t need to say anything else. I give him excellent marks.’”

  • “Nobody was drafted for army service for seven years after the war. At first they were taking older guys, whereas normally they drafted those who were nineteen. Our turn came as late as in 1948 when I was already twenty-two. All our commanders had battlefield experience, they had military decorations from the war and they thought that we needed to experience what they had experienced. They were doing terrible things to us. Two soldiers shot themselves. I experienced horrible things there, too. During a winter exercise we had to lie on the ground outside when it was freezing. I caught a cold and I got sick. We had German uniforms and helmets. Only the dress uniforms were English, including the coats. We used them when we went on a leave. But everything for the training was German. When we were issued these uniforms, we had to remove the swastikas from them and mend whatever was needed. One of us even received bloodied trousers with bullet holes. I got shoes with a nail inside, and the person who issued them to me refused to change them and he told me to hit the nail down with a hammer. But it was just a small tip that was protruding and it was not possible to hammer it down. I did not dare to ask for a replacement. They threw the things at the floor in front of us, as if we were dogs. We had to collect them from the ground. I placed an insole into my shoe and I thought that it would be OK, but then we were ordered to set out on a night marching exercise. The officers rode on horses and they made us walk in full gear for a very long time. The insole disintegrated and the nail was pricking me in my heel. My heel was pierced by that nail. I went to see that idiot again, and only then he agreed to change the shoes for me.”

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    Praha, 02.12.2014

    duration: 06:27:41
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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I still carry the landscape of my childhood with me

Self-portrait, 1954, 32 x 25 cm, charcoal drawing, study for an oil painting of his hand; created in his poorly lit student apartment in Karolína Světlá Street
Self-portrait, 1954, 32 x 25 cm, charcoal drawing, study for an oil painting of his hand; created in his poorly lit student apartment in Karolína Světlá Street
photo: archiv pamětníka

Josef Hošna was born July 6, 1926 in the village Brloh in the Český Krumlov district. He practised painting and drawing since he was a little boy. Although his parents expected him to take over their family farm, Josef went to study porcelain decoration in České Budějovice during the war. He was profoundly influenced by the exacerbated German-Czech relations after the Second World War, and this theme also became reflected in his works. After the war he worked as a porcelain decorator in Nová Role. In 1952-1958 he studied figural drawing under professor Vratislav Nechleba at AVU (Academy of Fine Arts). After graduation he married and he lived with his wife Marie in Prague, but he was often going back to Brloh and doing landscape painting there. He worked as a free-lance artist under the Union of Czech Artists, focusing on landscape painting and lithography. After the Velvet Revolution he was renovating and painting altar pictures and stations of the cross. Josef Hošna died in 2022.