Eva Kmentová, Hlava na líbání, 1967, patinovaný beton cement, 58,5 x 23 x 18 cm

For Eva Kmentová, physicality is an essential topic, especially since the 1960s. "She opened up for Czech art the theme of physicality in other forms than were previously common."

Eva Kmentová (1928–1980) is one of the most prominent sculptors of post-war Czech art. Born into the family of the woodcarver František Kment, she graduated from the Secondary Vocational School of the Housing Industry at his request, to continue her studies in the sculpture studio of Professor Josef Wagner. Initially, we find features of socialist-realist modeling in her work, in 1954 she co-founded the group Trasa 1954, which tries to follow foreign developments in art instead of domestic socialist-realist tendencies with its tendencies. She follows foreign trends, travels to Italy (1966), where the encounter with Italian art transforms her morphology: she passes through modernist influences in order to detach her works from visual art in the 1960s and replace illusiveness with tactility and hapticness. Eva Kmentová's significant material is plaster, but due to a serious illness she later abandons this material and replaces it with paper. Eva belonged to the generation of married couples, her partner was Olbram Zoubek, who followed completely different tendencies in his work.

For Eva Kmentová, physicality is an essential topic, especially since the 1960s. "She opened up for Czech art the theme of physicality in other forms than were previously common." (Václav Hájek, Artlist) Touch, haptic perception, touching and fragmenting the body are fundamental principles that Kmentová brings to Czech art. This transformation and shift from illusiveness towards tactility occurs with Kmentová almost at the same time as with Alina Szapocznikow, a prominent sculptor of Polish origin, associated with the Czech environment. Both knew each other and met during their studies at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, both collaborated with theoretician Jindřich Chalupecký in the 1960s, and both took advantage of the opportunity offered by the short-term opening to new cultural possibilities. French theoretician Pierre Restany, author of the New Realism manifesto, thus showed interest in Kmentová's work. In connection with this period, theorist Daniela Kramerová draws attention to the fact that "the integration of prints and casts is related to the actual internal transformation of the sculpture from the construction of a classically internally coherent sculptural work to the creation of an emptied, unstable, sometimes fragile and temporally ephemeral object." These tendencies in the context Eva Kmentová's works have been appearing since 1965, first in the form of prints of material and later on to prints of palms, lips, feet and fingers, especially in the works Stela with lip prints or Stela with foot prints, where the print becomes part of the sculpture, which refers to the purpose religious worship. It is the "stellar shape" that is often mentioned in connection with the Kissing Head, which is carried by an elongated neck, where the most significant part of the head is the cast of a relatively fleshy and sensual mouth, intended in accordance with the name for kissing.

Ludmila Vachtová writes that in Eva Kmentová's work, "the physicality of the 1960s became openly visible. Ears, eyes, fingers painted, plastically reproduced (…) headed triumphantly into the exhibition halls (…) Yoko Ono, John Lennon's fateful life guide, strove with all her might to capture the act of love. Lips have become perhaps the most widespread sign of psychedelic-post-party harmony. They zeroitized the entire globe, as the works of Naďa Plíšková, the American Tom Wesselmann (…) or the French Martial Raysse demonstrate. Someone drew them, modeled them, affixed them, enlarged them, but no one dreamed up as many altars and reliquaries of kisses as Eva."

Lucie Nováčková, July 2024

MgA. Lucie Nováčková

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