Litmus paper of the normalization
Joska Skalník was born on 23 March 1948 in Prague but grew up in Kolín. His childhood was marked by a congenital disorder affecting his legs. Already at elementary school his talent for arts had been recognized and he was able to develop it in an arts school. Later, he was strongly influenced by people close to the painter Karel František Foltýn. After elementary school he initially studied at a commercial high school but after three years transferred to a school of decorative arts. In 1969 he had to suspend his studies because of his health, graduating a year later. His first job consisted of painting decorations and script at the State Theater Studio. In 1977 he transferred to The Drama Club where he worked in promotion and where he has stayed to this day. Apart from that, he used the premises of The Drama Club to organize unauthorized exhibitions of paintings and photographs. He co-founded and since 1970 was active in the so-called Jazz Section. He actively participated in numerous samizdat book publications (I Served the Kind of England, John Ono Lennon and others) as well as magazines (Revolver Revue, Original videojournal). On 2 September 1986 he was arrested for his illegal activities, detained and sentenced to a three-year suspended imprisonment. Following his release he continued with his illegal activities all until the Velvet Revolution. As a close friend of Václav Havel’s he participated in the foundation of the Civic Forum for which he drafted graphic and promotion materials. In 1990 he became an adviser to the newly-elected President Václav Havel but left only a year later. Ever since he has been exclusively engaged in art work. He lives in Prague.