Míla (Bohumila) DOLEŽELOVÁ
Míla (Bohumila) DOLEŽELOVÁ

This year we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of an exceptional and charismatic woman and gifted artist, often called the painter of big eyes.

Although Míla Doleželová was born in Prostějov, her life and work are closely connected with Vysočina, whose rugged beauty she and her husband Jiří Mareš fell in love with.

She was not only very productive, but also an extremely gifted painter, her work is known all over the world, her paintings are represented in collections in Mexico, Paris, Tel Aviv and the United States, for example. Paradoxically, she is still a somewhat underappreciated artist in the Czech Republic, with most of her admirers in the Vysočina region. During her lifetime, she created a monumental work including numerous frescoes, graphics, she created the designs of postage stamps and book illustrations, but above all, her unforgettable oil paintings.

Míla (12. 11. 1922 Prostějov – 30. 12. 1993 Telč) was born in the family of an occasional office assistant and a seamstress, living in the poor district of Prostějov. Her childhood was marked by poverty, her father's alcoholism, but also her first encounter with gypsy children, with whom she befriended. She trained as a milliner and for several years made a living as a ladies' hatter and as a worker in a Plzeň chemist. As she did not get into the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague after the war, she entered the Prague State School of Graphics, where she only studied for a year. Due to her extraordinary talent, she was accepted into the second year of the Academy in 1946, even though she did not have a high school diploma. After completing her academic studies in the graphic studio of prof. Vladimíra Pukla, she remained at the school for another four years as an assistant professor. Since 1954, she has been working as a freelancer. At that time, she came to eastern Slovakia to the environment of Roma settlements, where she participated in an ethnographic survey of the life of the inhabitants there. In 1958, she married the painter Jiří Mareš (1932–1984) and moved with him from Prague, first to an abandoned brickyard near Jihlávka, and in 1961 to a village cottage in Klátovec pod Javořicí. Even though they lived through a period of financial problems and material shortages, it was a peak period in terms of her work, which is evidenced, among other things, by her participation in several exhibitions, the most important of which took place at the turn of 1966/1967 in the Vysočina Regional Gallery in Jihlava. The paintings exhibited here and later successfully sold, as well as subsequent exhibitions in Miami, Florida, Chicago and Mexico, enabled the couple to finally buy their own house in Telč in 1972, where they moved with her mother. Living in the historic center of the city, right on the ancient walls, finally allowed them a comfortable life devoted to work. Unfortunately, this happy period did not last long. Míla's mother died in 1978 and her beloved husband in 1984. After the death of loved ones, she completely closed herself off from her surroundings, acquaintances and friends, did not accept anyone and maintained contact with the outside world only through telephone or correspondence. She closed herself into the solitude and self-imposed isolation of her house, which lasted until her death at the end of 1993.

On the occasion of this anniversary, an exhibition of paintings by Míla Doleželová, prepared by the City of Telč, the University Center of Telč, the Vysočina Regional Gallery in Jihlava and the Vysočina Museum Jihlava, is being held in the Municipal Gallery Firehouse in Telč from 16/6 to 31/12/2022.

The exhibited paintings are part of a large collection of a total of 172 works by painter Míla Doleželová, long-term loaned to the University Center of Masaryk University in Telč from the property of the Czech Dominican Province, and are supplemented by several paintings from the property of the Jindřich and Ička Waldes Foundation. The representative monograph "Míla Doleželová", published by the Munipress Publishing House of the Masaryk University in Brno, was also presented at the opening. The richly illustrated book brings new studies by leading experts on her life and work.

The exhibition is conceived as a representative cross-section of Míla Doleželová's work, and the exhibited works are an example of the entire breadth of her artistic endeavors, showing the gradual development of her characteristic and unmistakable painting style to a distinctive, expressive color and a uniform, strongly stylized expression of the depicted faces, dominated by mysterious black eyes.
The installation is not arranged chronologically, but rather thematically. In the selected group of paintings, we can follow her work from the first small attempts of a young novice painter, through medium formats including mainly portraits, still lifes, examples of landscape painting and abstract subjects, to her typical and pivotal large-format works with Romani themes and religious motifs.

Míla's husband, the painter and graphic artist Jiří Mareš, is also represented in the exhibition with several works, which inextricably belongs with her. He was not only her partner in life and the first critic of her work, but also a collaborator and irreplaceable helper who put aside his own work in favor of his wife's talent and without whose help and support many of her monumental works would certainly not have been created.

The aim of this exhibition is to present Doleželová's work as a reflection of her life and artistic journey, her successes and failures, her tireless search, experiments and the sad end of her life in solitude and voluntary isolation.

Míla Doleželová was an unclassifiable author, whom many know primarily as a Gypsy painter, after all, she dedicated a significant part of her work (in addition to portraits and Christian motifs) to processing Roma themes and subjects. She was, but above all, a painter of people, human relationships and feelings. Her paintings are an example of poetry, humanity, freedom, joy, maternal tenderness and love, but also sadness, human suffering, pain and compassion. Even today, they have an amazing charm and the power to bring us back to the past and maybe even make us think...

Now, as the curator of the exhibition, I can only hope that the exhibition captures the magnitude and depth of the work of this unmistakable painter. Big palms and feet calling for human closeness and above all big black eyes, like windows into the depths of the human soul, tirelessly searching for the meaning of human life.

...All this is Míla Doleželová...


July 2022

curator of collection of paintings and drawings
Mgr. Jana Bojanovská

phone number.: 567 217 133; 605 221 763

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