academic painter Ivan Bukovský

* 1949  

  • „My granny from my mother´s side, at least what emerged from occasional remarks of my mother, was a Communist Party MP during the First Republic, and so it happened that later on, when she was a little girl, the quite infamous minister Kopecký used to hold her on his lap. They knew each other rather well. He became my father´s boss after the war, because my father was employed at the Press Department of the Ministry of the Information and Education (TOMI) and thus minister Kopecký was his supreme boss at the time. And when they said to my father: “Otíčku, you´re a good comrade but as a Jew you simply can´t work here“, my mother, at least according to what she told us, ran to Kopecký to scratch his eyes out and scold him off. She regarded him as an uncle or something like that. She remembered him from her childhood. But that is only another small detail. In fact, I don´t know much about the earlier history of my parents because they didn´t like to speak about such things. That´s why it was only much later that I started to put things together from small fragments and accidental remarks which I remembered.“

  • „And my father was also under interrogation procedure in connection with the interrogation prior to the Proces. Simply, he suddenly disappeared for three days and was no more. He returned after three days, completely exhausted: “Marianna, make me strong coffee, I´m going to bed.“ And much later, he put interesting cards on the table. One more thing has to be said about this that one of the reasons why he was interrogated could have been the fact that one of the brothers Slánskýs, no idea now if it was Richard or Rudolf, was a witness at my parents´ wedding. This could be the reason why he was in the focus of attention and Hermann Field on top of that, so it stood to reason that he had been interrogated. And my father, when I was a bit older and was able to understand, told me something important. That they, of course, asked him what language he communicated in with Field because they found out that he had decent German but no English. And Field could speak only English. And my father, an experienced concentration camp detainee, knew that, while being interrogated, you answer the questions in the way they were asked. So, he answered simply that he had spoken to Field through an interpreter. Luckily, they didn´t ask him who the interpreter was. Because if they had, he would have had to reply that it had been my mother and I would probably have become an orphan in my tender age. But as I say, my father luckily knew how to answer and got away with it only with the three days of interrogation. But I think that already at this time, his ideology was undermined, maybe not his ideology yet but the belief in the representatives of the ideology. Because in the second half of the 60s when we were having wise discussions as I was becoming old enough to understand, he told me:“Don´t you ever dare enter the Party! They are no communists but a gang of criminals.“ And my feeling is, because he died in 1970 that what happened in 1968 in August that this, in fact, killed him. He was ill, naturally his health was poor already because of the concentration camp, yet he still kept his head above water but this damaged him healthwise and mentally completely so that in October 1970 he died.“

  • „Thanks to me, Jirka Cerha went on in this way to compose two absolutely great compositions I had asked him for. The first one called The Cell No.42 was composed and performed in Terezín on the occasion of the opening of the exhibition in 1980, which I did in fact together with Jirka Sozanský. We started preparing it from 1977 thanks to Jirka´s initiative, it was all his responsibility. To the final symposium, we also invited Zdeněk Beran and Olda Kulhánek and Petr Kovář, Ivan Dolejšek and Luboš Janečka, the sculptor. He, later on, emigrated to America. Around this exhibition, it was some hell of a scandal because it was supposed to be cancelled in the last minute. Finally, it did function, but it was closed off prematurely, or something like that. And the interesting thing was that although we had a deal with some newspapermen to make some publicity to it, about two days before the opening, a strict ban from the Central Committee of the Party came not to publish any information about the exhibition. Nevertheless, still before the ban came out, one or two articles did get published and there was even a short shot about the exhibition on TV. We did manage that! A charming story goes that one of the people employed at the Department of Culture of the Central Committee of the Party, a Semín, a rather poor graphic artist, travelled around the republic telling the people working in cultural sphere:“ I can tell you, comrades, this, this is not the way to do art.“ So, he managed to arouse a huge general interest because the people working in the cultural sphere hurried to book buses to get to Terezín to see how art shouldn ´t be done. The result was that the exhibition got many more visitors than we had ever expected. Not only was it visited by regular visitors of the Museum but also by groups of the public working in culture. So, this is an evident example that sometimes, how should I put it, overt eagerness doesn´t bring the effect that is expected.“

  • Celé nahrávky
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    V ateliéru Ivana Bukovského, Příbram, 14.12.2016

    (audio)
    délka: 01:00:31
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of 20th Century
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Art is the guardian of mystery

Ivan Bukovský, portrait, about 1980
Ivan Bukovský, portrait, about 1980
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Ivan Bukovský was born on 7th July 1949 in Prague into a Jewish family. His parents spent the war years in several concentration camps, and were almost the only members in their families to survive. After the war they joined the Communist Party. Ivan´s father was employed in the Public Relations Department of the Ministry of Information and Public Education while his mother worked in a Foreign Trade office. Ivan has loved to paint ever since he was a child. His interest ran so deep that after completing the Hollar Secondary School of Arts he continued, after brief interruptions, and studied at Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. For several years he was a member of the Mánes Arts Society. In the 1960s he did some artistic work for the C:K Vocal band. In 1980 he participated in the group exhibition in Terezín, which was not only ignored by official authorities, but closed prematurely. Further exhibitions in Terezín followed in 2007 and 2015. In 1993, he travelled to Israel. The trip had a formative effect on his artistic vision. By linking Old Testament history with Greek mythology and the sweeping gestures of the Baroque, Ivan has found his main theme as well as the vehicle for his own artistic expression. Ivan used to teach graphic design at SPŠ School at Štětí and currently teaches art at the Waldorf School in Příbram.