Ladislav Čemický, Conflicts

Čemický's small-scale, mainly landscape and portrait work from 1935-1944 is documented by a number of drawings and sketches with a visible preparation for various compositions. In these, he reacted to various negative impulses of either social or war character...


Inv. No. : K 202

artist: Ladislav Čemický
title: Conflicts
year: 1944
technique: red chalk drawing
material: yellowish paper
dimensions: 50 x 42 cm
signature: below right Čemický 944, pencil

Čemický’s small-scale, mainly landscape and portrait work from 1935-1944 is documented by a number of drawings and sketches with a visible preparation for various compositions. In these, he reacted to various negative impulses of either social or war character. An evident influence on his visual direction was the work of Francisco Goya, Honoré Daumier and Vincent van Gogh that he encountered during his stay in Vienna /1935/, where he had the opportunity to see a wider selection of international painting – more than the art scene of Budapest offered.

In 1930’s he completed several scholarships and journeys around Western Europe, and his most significant stays were his stays in Paris in 1935-36 and in 1938 when the fascist pressure on Europe culminated, and the danger of World War Two insistently echoed. Here, he met Pablo Picasso and other artists from the so-called Paris School – painters of non-French origin – an avant-garde group with considerable influence on the European interwar period. In this environment, he “layed aside” his lyrical palette and followed the social-critical tendencies provoked by the restless political atmosphere and the ever-expanding phantom of fascism. Works painted during this period are filled with creative tension. They are a protest and a cry of anguish about whatever is going on in the world, merciless and shocking even without naturalist details. Compositions inspired by the working-class life of his neighbourhood were created along these paintings. A number of wash drawings with social motives were preserved from this parisian period in his sketchbook.

The drawing “Conflicts” from the abstract-expressive figural line of work bears signs of archetypal execution, of some kind of allegory in communication with the hectics of the time. Despair, anxiety, but also revolt are felt form this dynamic composition which he moved to the psycho-limit and reinforced its subject by hatching. The tragedy silently present above the exciting action completes the rhythm of figures made only in stylized signs and light contrasts.

Ladislav Čemický, painter of the Generation 1909, known as a watercolour painter portraying beauties of his native Liptov was born on March 24th 1909 in Čemice. After his  gymnasial studies in Budapest, he applied for the Economic University, but already after one year he transferred to the Academy of Fine Arts where he studied under the guidance of Professors I. Csók O. Glatz and L. Kándó (1929-1934). After his return to Slovakia, he contacted and became friends with painters Zolo Palugyay, Edmund Gwerk, M. A. Bazovský, Július Lörinc, and took part in Slovak art events.

His work of the beginning of 1940’s was characterized by strong humanist sentience, social tendencies and anti-war content.

The World War Two affected the fate of nations. Čemický also reacts against the increasing fascist terror in his work. He actively takes part in Slovak National Uprising with antifascist resistance. In 1947, he moved to Bratislava with his family. He took part in exhibitions with August 29th Group, and Life Group there. He also joins the surrealist group Avant-garde 38, and takes part in drafting almanacs of poetry and art. Since 1949 he worked as docent and professor of the General School of Painting at the newly-founded Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, where he lectured until 1976. In the same year, 1949, he became the founding member of the Union of Czechoslovak Fine Artists.

The author spent most of his creative life in the artistic and cultural setting of Bratislava with continuous inspiring returns to his native Liptov.

During his lifetime, he was awarded more honours and prizes: Bratislava City Prize (1948), Meritorious Artist (1965), National Artist (1975), Order of Labour (1979).

Ladislav Čemický left behind an extensive work of quality of European dimension. He died in Stupava on January 6th 2000. He was 91 years old.

Marta Hučková


Tilkovský, V.: Ladislav Čemický. SFVU Publishing House, Bratislava, 1962, p. 24 – 36
Peterajová, Ľ.: Súčasné české a slovenské umenie [Contemporary Czech and Slovak Art]. In: Slovenské umenie [Slovak Art]. Ladislav Čemický. Tatran- Odeon, 1983, p. 310 – 311
Team of authors: Dejiny slovenského výtvarného umenia 20. storočie [History of Slovak Visual Art 20th century]. In: Cesty a osudy maliarstva v r.1938-1965 [Journeys and Fates of Slovak Painting in 1938-1965] . SNG, Bratislava 2000, p.74-77
Podušel, Ľ.: Maliarstvo, sochárstvo, grafika [Painting, Sculpture, Prints]. State Gallery Nitra, 195, p. 188

Photo: Slávomír Žákovič