Květa Pacovská

* 1928  

  • “It isn’t so important whether I spend two or seven hours painting in my studio, but rather whether I really go to this environment every day and spend time thinking about how to improve it; what would be more suitable; what to change about the painting. It is very important for me just to go there and ponder about those things. It is sometimes more important than the work itself. Emil Filla himself gave us a recipe. He said that we need to get to workand the inspiration will come.“

  • “Once I had an exhibition in Bratislava. Today, it is in a foreign country but it wasn’t so back then. I had won a Golden Apple at the local biennale and the rule was that as a reward I could do an individual exhibition there. People from abroad – mostly Germans – visited this exhibition because they used to come to the biennale. They were mostly Germans but also people from Vienna since it weren’t far from there. They discovered me there and then contacted me. I told them that nobody would have my works published. But Mr. Christian Stottele from Ravensburger – a very traditional publishing house – told me that he will and asked me to send it to him. So I did and then there was no response for a year. A terrible silence – I thought that was it. But then he must have changed his mind because he contacted me once again. I created a book about counting for them. I supposed that everyone likes counting and that it is important for everyone. I also liked the visual aspect of numbers; their shapes. I was excited about numbers. I submitted it and called it Eins, Fünf, Viele which means One, Five, Many.“

  • “The State Publishing House of Children’s Book had a monopoly back then. If I remember correctly, there was no other option than to publish there at that time. I was happy that I could illustrate some of the books. Just a while ago you showed me a book that you bought in a secondhand bookshop – Rootabaga Stories which I loved so much. I loved the text written by Carl Sandburg back then when he had two little children himself. He actually wrote it for them. Apart from that, Carl Sandburg mostly wrote adults’ books. This is such a gem that I felt much honored for having had the chance to illustrate it.”

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    Praha, 29.06.2015

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A book should be consumed

Květa Pacovská
Květa Pacovská
photo: Pamět Národa - Archiv

Květa Pacovská was born on 28 July 1928 in Prague. Her father was an opera singer, her mother a language teacher. Ever since childhood, she enjoyed creating beautiful things, thus showing her talent for arts. Her dad died during World War II and she was forced to leave high school. In 1945 she began studying a graphics school and already in 1947 was admitted to the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. Here, under the tutelage of Emil Filla, she focused on monumental painting. Květa graduated in 1952 and soon after gave birth to two sons whom she has with the designer Milan Grygar. She started making a living as a children’s books illustrator. Her unmistakable creative style was initially rejected as overly progressive but over time she had built a unique reputation among the arts world. Apart from illustration she also produced paintings, graphic works and sculptures. In 1983 she was awarded the Golden Apple at the Illustration Biennale in Bratislava which enabled her to organize an independent exhibition. Here she got discovered by a German publisher for whom she then created a series of books on numbers, colors, shapes and the alphabet which won acclaim in many countries. After the Velvet Revolution she has received more exhibition opportunities and also taught at arts schools in Berlin and England. In 1992 Květa Pacovská was awarded the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award.  Up to now she goes to her Prague studio every day to work.