This year we commemorate the 140th anniversary of the birth of the outstanding Czech painter, sculptor and world-class graphic artist Otakar Kubín (October 22, 1883 Boskovice – October 17, 1969 Marseille), whose life was connected not only with the Moravian Boskovice, where he was born, but also with France, which became his second home.
Otakar Kubín was born as the sixth of seven children into a family of teachers. His parents wanted him to continue this family tradition, but in the end they agreed that young Otakar should go to study at the School of Stone Sculptors in Hořice (1898–1900). From there he went to Prague to the Academy of Fine Arts (1900–1904), where he first studied in the studio of Professor J. V. Myslbek, continued with V. Brožík, V. Hynais and H. Schwaiger and finished his studies with F. Thiele. He then went to study briefly at the Rubens Academy of Painting in Antwerp and made study trips to Rome, Brussels and Paris. In the years 1909–1912, he partially fulfilled his father's wish when he became a drawing assistant at the Higher Technical School in Prague. He got married in 1912 and went to France, where he lived until 1951, first in Paris; after the death of his son in 1919, he moved with his sick wife to Apt in the south of France for treatment, where his wife unfortunately later died of tuberculosis. Despite these sad events, he liked the region of Provence and the landscape there became the main subject of his paintings. He settled here permanently, married for the second time in 1922 and began his happier and very successful life and creative phase. In 1925 he bought a bourgeois house in Simiane and later an old castle in nearby Casseneuve, took French citizenship and began to sign his paintings in French Othon Coubine. He exhibited in Paris together with Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, was invited to exhibitions all over the world, and his first monograph was published in Rome. After World War II, he and his French wife returned to Czechoslovakia for some time. He lived alternately in Prague and in his native Boskovice, but in 1964 he permanently left for his beloved Provence, Marseille, where he also died in October 1969.
Otakar Kubín was a member of the artistic group Osma (1907–1908), the Association of Visual Artists Mánes (since 1909) and Umělecká beseda (since 1932).
The painting "Otylka" from the collections of the Vysočina Regional Gallery in Jihlava, painted in earthy colors characteristic of the landscape of late summer, was created in 1952, i.e. at the time of the painter's return to Bohemia. In general, Kubín looked for and captured what is constant, permanent and unchanging in the landscape. He focused his attention on a certain dominant, on a hill, a peak, a tree or a chapel. And it is this small building that is captured in the middle plan of this pictorial composition. A hilly landscape surrounds the chapel and a few trees in its immediate vicinity, with an orchard in the background and a field with bundled sheaves of grain in the foreground of the canvas. According to the name of the painting, it is easy to determine the exact location, because it is the chapel of St. Otília, still standing in the fields north of Boskovice, called "Otylka" by the locals. It is a baroque building of a rural type, built and consecrated in 1751 on the site of a well, the water of which was supposed to have healing effects, especially for sick eyes, according to folk tradition. In 1965, the chapel was declared a cultural monument, and in 2004 it was repaired and reopened.