Josef Váchal (1884 - 1969)
painter, carver, illustrator, graphic artist, philosopher, typographer, poet, writer, draftsman, printer.

Josef Váchal was a recognized and forgotten artist during his life. His passionate work was not discovered more intensively until the 1990s. He holds a solitary position in the context of Czechoslovak art.

Josef Váchal was born as an illegitimate child, he spent his childhood and youth in Písek in South Bohemia. Although Váchal despises the decoration of the current Art Nouveau, he also succumbs to its elegance - as the title page of the first manuscript collection, The Collection of Mazanics and Poems by Jan Schmíd and Josef Váchal, suggests.
At the beginning of the century, he became acquainted with photography and his relations with the theosophical and spiritualist movements in Prague began to deepen, he attended private sessions - in the studio of Ladislav Šaloun, he reads theosophical writings. After a short escape from Prague, he decides on an artistic career. He earns extra money by drawing postcards, occasionally binding books and painting landscapes in which the same motif is repeated: a pond, swamp, a small lake - dangerous treacherous places, trap and abyss - secrets of earth and evil, treacherous luminous swamps, insecurity, dark chaos .
In the following years, Váchal's work began in many directions - literary symbolism, Art Nouveau stylization, contemporary aesthetics, naturalistic commentaries - social criticism and anarchism - which he never actually accepted. Forming for his artistic expression is his relationship to spiritualism, occultism and esoteric sciences - the world of black magic and mysticism is connected with his creative fantasy. In 1910, he co-founded the Sursum group, the most prominent group that expressed its intense, in many ways contradictory, but also markedly specific relations to the psychic orientation of art. It brought together personalities of different styles of late symbolism - its members were Jaroslav Horejc, František Kobliha, Jan Konůpek, Emil Pacovský and Jan Zrzavý. Josef Váchal stood by his contemporaries for the first and last time in the current stream of development. In later years, it turned out that the development of his artistic expression does not copy the line of development of fine art, and therefore his work got into a kind of outsider position. In fact, he has remained the solitaire of the Czech art scene to this day. Váchal's search proceeded in all directions, creating book graphics, free graphic sheets, paintings, drawings, diary entries, prose, but also carved sculptures and statuettes, furniture and ceramics, later in the 1920s even frescoes - Portman's house in Litomyšl is actually a kind of ORBIS PICTUS Váchal's mental life and artistic views.
After the onset of the communist regime, he gradually fell into cultural and social isolation, his work hardly appearing in public. However he himself was awarded the title of Merited Artist (received him with cold indifference) and died shortly afterwards on May 10, 1969.