Josef Sima / Portrét Nadine Germainové, 1922, National Gallery Prague
The exhibition Josef Šíma: The Road to Le Grand Jeu presents the early work as well as masterpieces of one of the most influential figures of modern art. The Waldstein Riding School of the National Gallery Prague will host it from 19 April 2019.
The exhibition presents the work of Josef Šíma (1891–1971) from his beginnings in Brno to his encounter with the poets of The Great Game (Le Grand Jeu), a rather noteworthy and today somehow legendary French group.
‘The exhibition shows to what extent Šíma’s involvement in this adventure was one of the key impulses for his art production. In the brief period of 1929–1931, Šíma became the group’s chief artist and the other members–poets interpreted his artworks,’ says Anna Pravdová, the exhibition’s curator.
Josef Sima / National Gallery Prague
Josef Sima / Café Parnasse, 1923, National Gallery Prague
In this context, the artworks of other group members will be presented for the first time in the Czech Republic along with documents that are lent primarily from French museums, galleries, and private collections, including Šíma’s unique portraits of René Daumal and Roger Gilbert-Lecomte, the group’s key poets. Josef Šíma, known as Joseph Sima abroad, relocated to Paris at the age of thirty. He kept strong bonds to Czechoslovakia, his hometown Jaroměř, Prague, and Brno – Šíma’s homeland inspired his art production and he also played an important intermediary role between the Czech and French avant-gardes.
Josef Sima / Podobizna Berenice Abbottove, 1928, National Gallery Prague
Josef Sima / Evropa, 1927, Moravska galerie v Brne
Šíma’s encounter with the young French poets, spearheaded by René Daumal and Roger Gilbert-Lecomte, deeply affected him and, as he highlighted many times, they best understood his art. Along with them and other artists he founded the group called Le Grand Jeu which criticized European rational civilisation and which drew inspiration from Indian philosophy, the unconscious mind, and experimental metaphysics. The group’s members tried to overcome real-world borders, using various means from poetry to meditation techniques.
Josef Sima / Podobizna Reného Daumala, 1929, Musee des Beaux-Arts, Reims, Foto © C. Devleeschauwer, dar Josefa Simy, 1963
Josef Sima / Navrat Theseův, 1933, Galerie hlavniho mesta Prahy
Josef Sima / Domy, 1921, Moravska galerie v Brne
Visitors to the exhibition at the Waldstein Riding School may admire Šíma’s portraits, city sceneries, landscapes, torsos in the landscape, and mythological scenes as well as paintings, drawings, and photographs by his companions, primarily Maurice Henry and Artür Harfaux. Furthermore, Šíma’s collaboration with other remarkable poets will be presented such as that with Pierre Jean Jouve and George Ribemot-Dessaignes including illustrations for their books.
‘Compared with the Brno exhibition, visitors to Prague can look forward to seeing more loans from private collections as well as Šíma’s works on paper which must be displayed for limited periods because of their sensitivity to light,’ adds Petr Ingerle.
The exhibition has been prepared by the National Gallery Prague in cooperation with the Moravian Gallery in Brno where it took place in the Governor’s Palace from October 2018 to February 2019. The exhibition is held under the auspices of His Excellency Roland Galharague, Ambassador of France to the Czech Republic.
Josef Šíma / The Road to Le Grand Jeu
Through July 28, 2019 / National Gallery Prague – Waldstein Riding School
Curators: Anna Pravdová, Petr Ingerle
Under the auspices of the French Embassy in Prague
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