A tribute to Otakar Lebeda

Otakar Lebeda - Horské oko v Krkonoších

The pictures of the glacial lakes in the Krkonoše mountains on the border of Czech Republic and Poland were painted by Otakar Lebeda (1877 – 1901) during his last trip in September 1896. He was only 19 years old at the time.
Both canvases are too detailed to be completed in one sitting. So he had to either return to the spots or finish them from memory somewhere else. Strolling around the peaks of the Krkonoše Mountains with equipment for painting certainly required determination and physical fitness.

Small and Great Lakes can be found today on the Polish side of the mountains. Lebeda portrayed them several times and always chose an unusual view from above into the depth. A realistic record of the steep rocky slopes falling to the water surface of the Little Lake was painted not far from the trail, which can still be followed today. However you will not be able to see the view on the other painting of the Great Lake, unless you break the rules of the National Park and walk off the trail. Of course I don’t recommend doing that.

Otakar Lebeda, Horské oko v Krkonoších, 1896, NGP, Oil on canvas, 78 × 98 cm

In June 1897, Lebeda graduated at the landscape studio of Julius Mařák at the Prague Academy, where he was considered to be one of the most talented students. Four years later, he prematurely ended his life and promising career with a shot from a revolver. The cause was depression and physical exhaustion.
On the level of considerations, it can be argued that if he had not done this and continued to paint in a similar spirit, then today he could be considered the greatest of Mařák’s students.

Otakar Lebeda, Velké jezero v Krkonoších, 1896, NGP, oil on canvas, 78 × 98 cm

Paintings of mountain lakes are among my favorites by Lebeda. A few years ago, during a visit to the same mountains, I decided to make my own version. The painting is an acknowledged tribute.

Tomas Honz, Maly Staw (Tribute to Lebeda), Oil on canvas, 65x75cm, 2019 (2024 revision)

What's coming in 2024?

2023 is behind us. It has been a beautiful if not a bit strange year for me. Much work has been done though and a way more is coming in 2024. So I thought I would share a glimpse of what to look forward to.
  • From the end of April, a solo exhibition in the Rabas gallery in Rakovník.
  • In May, a joint exhibition with a fellow painter Zdenek Daňek in the Gallery 9 in Prague.
  • A group exhibition in the Kooperativa gallery in Prague is under discussion.
  • I’m looking forward to three residencies this year. Taiwan in March, Italy in June and Austria in September.
  • There’s also one secret thing related to the caves in Romania. But more on that later.
  • and maybe finally a biographical book that I’ve been working on? 🙂

And so I will look forward to meeting you and I promise I won’t back down.
Anyway, I wish you much joy, abundance and inspiration in the 2024,
Sincerely,
Tomas


"Gamekeeper Realism" - Group Exhibition

I will have one very large painting there. I worked on it for two years. So far, only those who have visited my studio have seen it. And the whole action will be good.

 

Facebook event

Dear art lovers,
accept an invitation to the opening of the wittiest exhibition of 2023
Gamekeeper realism vol. 2
which will take place on Friday December 1st, 2023 from 5pm till 9pm in the Portheimka Gallery, náměstí 14. října 68/14, Prague 5 – Smíchov.
The exhibition will last from 2.12. 2023 through 15.1. 2024.
Exhibition curator: Filip Kůrka
Co-curator: Štěpán Mikulenka
Opening night music: TBA
More than 20 artists are participating.
We look forward to meeting you!
Warmly,
The Chemistry Gallery

And the teaser for the painting (It’s in the background):


UnderDark (Exhibition and a New Collection)

There are many caves of all sizes and conditions in Romania. However the most exciting ones can only be reached after a hike through impenetrable forests full of ravines and poisonous snakes. With a bit of knowledge, endurance and luck, you can delve into the underground, where only a few others have stood before.
Caves are like parallel worlds where time flows differently, things look different and you get strange and exciting feelings. As far as I know, no one in the entire history of art has painted with oils so deep in the underworld.
But to paint in such environment wasn’t easy at all. With the canvas, easel, and paints, I had to crawl through narrow shafts with cool running water on the bottom, climb steep slopes inside huge underground domes or slide on the slippery mud that the local caves are full of. While it was 40 degrees hot on the surface, the underground was damp and cold. It was exciting, dangerous and totally worth it. I think I managed to capture that otherworldliness in my paintings.

All these paintings will be on display at the Art Prague festival from December 7th to December 12th. See the details here.