“Black and white graphics is the queen and I always say I will return to it; but then I can’t resist and add some color. At the time when I began doing and printing graphics I liked sky blue which they even attributed to my style. I supplied my friend, the Dutch poet Boudewijn Büch with graphics for his poetry collections and in one of the poems Boudewijn writes about ‘Suchánek’s blue’, his favorite tone in my graphics. This renowned blue began with Chopin. I used to live in Mariánské Lázně where they hold Chopin’s festivals, I made Chopin’s portrait in black and sky blue, and I liked the combination. But over time, blue disappeared… These days I use it very rarely. I use olive green and purple as a base and I think this combination reflect the influence of art nouveau. Sometimes I complement the two with brick red but I have to say it is all intuitive, as I am led by the print. Only when I make a print of two colors I decide which one I put in as the third. Usually, I do four colors, sometimes five.”
“Once, Josef Sudek told me: ‘Young man, if they want to, they come on Tuesday evening, that’s when I play some music.’ Sudek had four ways of addressing people: he called older men gentlemen, young ones young men, young women cuties and ladies mistresses. And the young man gladly came. They taught me how to ring Sudek’s bell – instead of a bell he had two wires which only the initiated ones knew about – and when connected, his sister came to open the door. Sudek sat on a stool and played us classical, mostly baroque music, on his gramophone. I hadn’t known it before and was excited by Vivaldi, Telemann and Bach. So, Sudek taught me to listen to classical music but not only that. Great people came to visit him, and so I’ve met the painters Karel Vysušil and Andrej Bělocvětov, for instance.”
“First I did black and white lithography, later I moved to multicolor prints. There was always suspense in the creative process and the way from the original sketch to the final printout is veiled by a great mystery. The lithographic colors are transparent and so when printing in four or five, tones emerge by colors being printed one over another. My distinctive expression emerged thanks to the fact that when I did a landscape, a figure was creeping into it. I used my imagination and created compositions while being fascinated by the spiral. Natural themes in my method came out differently than during my studies. Second of all, it is thanks to lithography as a technique. When I grab a pen, my handwriting is never as distinct as when I take a stone and talk to it. The legendary pressman Václav Vejvoda used to say that stones have a soul and I have to agree with him: the stone really is a peculiar material. At the beginning I am nervous in its presence, almost fearing to make the first stroke but then a dialog starts unwinding between us – and sometimes the stone helps me out. For instance when ink is drying out and is well diluted, it creates a structure which seems random but I already know to work with such effects. I call my method regulated coincidence. I draw the coincidence’s hand but I never know what will the print look like; I let the result surprise me.”
Academic painter Vladimír Suchánek, born on 12 February 1933 in Nové Město nad Metují, is considered the master of multicolor lithography and leading Czech graphic artist of the second half of 20th century. Following a high school graduation in 1951 for political reasons he was prohibited from studying university and instead went to work as a manual worker in the Aero factory in Vysočany, Prague. A year later he was admitted to study art pedagogy at Charles University in Prague. Two years later he transferred to the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague to the graphic studio of professor Vladimír Silovský. He graduated in 1960. Ever since the 1970s his works were on display in European galleries which present modern Czech graphics. Up until 2016 he had 170 individual exhibitions both in the Czech Republic and abroad, and took part in 300 exhibitions including international graphics biennials. His works are included in the collections of National Gallery in Prague and numerous other public and private collections both here and abroad. From 1995 until 2015 he served as chairman of the Association of Czech Graphic Artists Hollar. In 1997 he was appointed member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts; nine years later he was awarded a Medal of Merit of the Czech Republic.