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Adriena Šimotová

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installation art
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About artist

The work of Adriena Šimotová is typically a world originating out of an extreme sense of threat. The insistence with which this experience of the polarity of human existence – its presence and absence – is communicated springs not just from the artist’s own fateful personal experiences but from her sensitive perception of the world. Šimotová describes here impressions from the war, which was her first encounter with the tragic side of life. Later the early loss of her husband and then her son had a profound effect on the artist’s life and left a powerful imprint on her work. She is also however influenced by her intellectual interests – for example, reading Marcel Proust or Martin Buber’s I and Thou, in which she found something akin to her own fragile, existential approach to the world and life.


Adriena Šimotová entered the art scene in the second half of the 1950s. Her sensitive perception of reality collided roughly with the harsh era of Soviet Stalisnism and its dictated dogma. Like many of her fellow students, she looked to the interwar avant-garde and especially French art for something to seize on. In 1954 her husband Jiří John became acquainted with painter Václav Bartovský, an older colleague, who with his gentle elegance and cultivated and sensitive painting, oriented towards French painters (e.g. Matisse, Bonnard), made a big impression on the young artists. Gradually a group of young artists united by a common outlook formed around Bartovský. In 1958 an exhibition of young artists was held at the House of Art (Dům umění) in Brno. The year 1958 was a turning point in Czech art: the political situation had begun to thaw slightly. In Brno a generation of young artists with a strong sense of shared outlook came together at the exhibition. They included Adriena Šimotová and other artists who in 1960 formed the group UB 12 (the members of UB 12 were V. Bartovský, V. Boštík, F. Burant, V. Janoušek, V. Janoušková, J. John, S. Kolíbal, J. Mrázek, D. Mrázková, V. Prachatická, O. Smutný, J. Šetlík, A. Šimotovýá, A. Vitík, from 1962 A. Kučerová and from 1964 J. Zemina).


The early period of Šimotová’s work was influenced by the atmosphere in the artistic circle of UB 12. From the outset she showed herself to be a painter with a feel for the pure, visual quality of colour. Paintings like Mirror (Zrcadlo, 1962) exhibit even stronger ties to pre-war development, but in 1963 her work underwent a change.  Šimotová moved towards a more abstract form of expression, though reality and usually landscape remained the prime motive. Mahulena Nešlehová classes these works within the wave of ‘poetic contemplation’, which is close to French lyrical abstraction (emerging after 1945 in the work of Wols and Hartung). Šimotová’s paintings, however, were at that time less existential than the French work and inclined towards statements about the search for harmony in life. Increasingly, concrete lines and symbols made their way into these lyrically quavering images, such as in the painting Mapped Landscape (Zmapovaná krajina, 1965), which, as the title indicates, is not so much about capturing an impression but about ‘mapping’ or somehow surveying a territory. Devices other than just painting techniques also appear in this painting (pasted paper).


In the late 1960s a movement that acquired the name New Figuration moved to the foreground of Czech art. It mixed the pop-art influences with an attempt to capture figures in new contexts. Some artists in this circle gravitated towards a grotesque concept (K. Nepraš, K. Gebauer), others captured the more philosophical level of everyday situations. Adriena Šimotová’s work also began to evolve along the lines of this movement around the year 1970. Her paintings, on subjects such as hair-combing and washing, alluded to the beauty of everyday tasks and to what she referred to as ‘delimitation’, which she understands as the relationship between humans and space and how they interactively shape each other. By this period her husband Jiří John had fallen ill and he died in 1972.


After the premature death of Jiří John, Šimotová could no longer go back to bold colours and painting. This was also a time when the traditional devices of art were being abandoned all over the world. One new tendency that emerged in her work emphasised the senses in the present, and this was induced by means of haphazard installations and the tactile quality of the materials used, underscoring their ephemeral, variable, impermanent and volatile qualities. Robert Morris coined the term ‘anti-form’ (1968) and spoke of the dematerialisation of art. Many artists’ work began to be statements about the fragility, elusiveness, and unpredictability of existence (Eva Hesse). The shift in Šimotová’s work was not just a reaction to what happened in her private life, but came from a sense of a need to find an adequate means of artistic expression. New expressive devices such as fragile paper and soft materials were exactly what she needed to express her feelings about the fleetingness of life. The way the unorthodox media emerging in art at that time are combined with personal reflections on death and the transience of existence is extraordinarily compelling in Šimotová’s work.

Over the course of the 1970s and later Šimotová was creating work that largely employed paper in its various forms, allowing her to work with its fragile and yielding qualities, lightly perforating, tearing, crumpling or shaping it. A key theme is the figure as a vehicle for depictions of man confronted with extreme situations in life. The psychological impact is then amplified by the artist’s emphasis on the material’s tactile quality, evoking a sense of physicality or a sense that we have before us the traces of the recent presence of a human body (or parts of one; heads are a frequent motif). Sometimes these traces are found in genuine imprints: the artist would imprint her own body or the bodies of her friends in the painting. Only occasionally would she add colour to the paper, her primary shades being Klein blue or the red of human tissue. The presence of the physical aspect runs right through her very sensitive body of work, her work is permeated by the ‘language of touch’. Šimotová managed to transform ‘poor’ materials using her hands (crumpling, overlapping, perforating, tearing) into lofty statements with metaphysical dimensions.  


Although the work of Adriena Šimotová tends largely to revolve around the same subject, it has nonetheless undergone remarkable changes. If we compare, for example, works from the 1960s with works from the past decade, the size of the difference is obvious, even though in both periods she is dealing with the philosophy of human existence. Her earliest works relate more to physicality and to a direct experience with material (though they also touch on spirituality). Objects such as Solitude (Osamělost, 1977) or Support (Podpírání, 1984) are in a way more narrative: we can glean from them more memetic points to seize on that direct us toward their meaning. With the passage of time, however, there has been a growing tendency towards greater abstraction of real shapes in her art and a strengthening drift towards ‘dematerialisation’ in both the formal and the intellectual sense (Intimacy without Gravity / Intimní stav bez tíže, 1992). Everything is more fleeting, far harder to capture and describe, and increasingly fragile. The physical aspect has not vanished, it is however more subtle and flitting. Legibly represented figures or objects alternate with shapes whose relationship to reality is often indicated by nothing more than the name of the work (Large Mirror / Velké zrcadlo, 1990). This elusiveness is then achieved late in the artist’s life, as the statement made is not about a flesh-and-blood world (Revelation / Vyjevování, 2010). Forms are sublimated and dissolve into a cosmic vortex of prime matter, becoming unglued, cloudy, flitting, and fluttering particles. As if Šimotová were uttering the old Biblical (but essentially now scientifically proven) words: ‘for dust you are and to dust you shall return’. 

Author of the annotation
Ivona Raimanová



1940-1941 Private graphic school, Prague
1942-1945 State Graphic Arts School in Prague
1945-1950 Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, studio Josef Kaplicky

1979 Big Prize of Internatiohnal Biennial Ljubljana
Member of art groups included in ARTLIST.
UB 12


Solo exhibitions

Retrospektiva, Národní galerie v Praze, Veletržní palác / Retrospective, National Gallery, Trade Fair Palace, Prague
The ephemeral eye, Musée des Beaux-Arts/Dijon

Tři / Three(s Janem Mertou a Jiřím Černickým), Galerie Sýpka

Stopy pamäte, Galéria Medium, Bratislava
Grafika 1965–1995, / Prints 1965-1995, Prácheňské muzeum, Písek Adriena Šimotová: s kolemjdoucím, Dům umění, Zlín
S kolemjdoucím II / With the Passer-by II, AP galerie, Praha

První hlasy / First Voices, Galerie Béhemot
Was vergeht und was bleibt, Galerie in Trakelhaus, Salcburk Adriena Šimotová, Coutsbank, Vídeň
Arbeiten mit Papier, Internationale Sommerakademie für Bildende Kunst, Salcburk
Adriena Śimotová, Izbrisane podobe, Umetnost galerija Maribor,
Razstavni salon Rotovž, Maribor

Poloviny / Halves, Galerie 761, Ostrava
Adriena Śimotová, cyklus česká grafika / Adriena Šimotová, Cycle of Czech Graphic Art, Galerie umění Karlovy Vary, Gedächtnis der Familie, České centrum, Berlín
Gedächnits der Famillie, České centrum, Berlín

Mémoire de famille, Galerie de France, Paříž
Mémoire de Famille, Nová síň Praha

Co mizí a co zůstává / That which Disappears and that which Remains,
Dům umění, Brno
Adriena Śimotová, Galerie Aspekt, Brno
Adriena Śimotová: odrazy / Adriena Šimotová: Reflections, Galerie 60/70,
Adriena Šimotová, Galerie Saint-Séverin, Paříž
Tváře /Faces, Galerie Gema Art, Praha

Zwei Räume, Galerie Christine König, Vídeň
O blízkém a vzdáleném / Of the Near and the Far, Výstavní síň Mánes,

Tisch-wächter, Galrie Knoll, Budapešť
Plovoucí láhve / Floating Bottles, Galerie Behémot, Praha Grafika / Prints, Galerie Gema-art, Praha

Objekte und Ziechnungen, Galerie Christine König, Vídeň Tisch-wächter, Hypo Galerie im Romanischer Keller, Salcburk

Adriena Šimotová, Galerie de France, Paříž
Radierung/arbaiten mit Papier, Internationale Sommerakademie für Bildende Kunst, Galerie Slavi, Grödig u Salcburku
Svěcení reality /Sanctification of Rreality, Galerie U bílého jednorožce, Klatovy
Magie věcí / The Magic of Things, Galerie Benedikta Rejta, Louny Miesto veci / The Place of things, Klub priateľov českej kultúry, Bratislava

Setkání 1969 -1990 / Meetings 1969 -1990, Galerie hlavního města Prahy, Staroměstská radnice, Praha
Frottagen und Ziechnungen, Galerie Christine König, Vienna
Adriena Šimotová/Cesta / Adriena Šimotová/Journey, Galerie výtvarného umění, Opava

Kresba a prostor, Ústřední kulturní dům železničářů, Praha / Drawing and Space, Central Rrailway Workers Cultural House Prague
Problém hlavy / Problem of the Head, Oblastní galerie Liberec
Dialog: Adriena Šimotová - Václav Stratil / Dialogue: Adriena Šimotová – Václav Stratil, Galerie moderního umění, Hradec Králové
Mapování prostoru (tělo kláštera), bývalý františkánský klášter, Hostinné / Mapping of a Space (the Body of Monastery), former Fransiscan monastery, Hostinné

Instalace / Installations (s Václavem Stratilem), bývalý františkánský klášter, Hostinné

Kresby / Drawings, Galerie Sovinec, Sovinec
Práce na papíře, Dům umění města Brna, Dům pánů z Kunštátu, Brno / Work on Paper, House of Art of the City of Brno, House of the Lords of Kunštát, Brno
Tváře / Faces, Kulturní dům Opatov, Praha

Kresby, bývalý františkánský klášter, Hostinné / Drawings, former Franciscan monastery, Hostinné

Prostorové kresby, bývalý františkánský klášter, Hostinné / Spatial Drawings, former Franciscan monastery, Hostinné

Two artist from Prague (se Stanislavem Kolíbalem), Riverside Studios, Londýn
Grafika / Prints,Galerie umění Karlovy Vary, Letohrádek, Ostrov nad Ohří
Otisky / Imprints, Galerie 55, Kladno

Galerie Witte-Baumgartner, Západní Berlín
Empreintes, Galerie de France, Paříž

Samostatná výstava na / Solo Exhibition at : The 14th International Biennal of Graphic Art, Lublaň

Kresby, ilustrace, objekty, Ústav makromolekulární chemie, Praha / Drawings,Illustrations, Objects, Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry, Prague
Grafika / Prints, Divadlo hudby, Ostrava

Grafika Adrieny Šimotové / Prints Adriena Šimotová, divadlo hudby OKS,Olomouc
Adriena Šimotová - Kresby / Drawings, Klub školství a vědy Bedřicha Václavka, Brno
Grafika, Dům kultury, České Budějovice
Grafik, Kunsthallen, Uppsala

Vymezení a komunikace, ateliér Josefa Mžyka, Dům Mlynářka, Praha / Delimination and Communication, Josef Mžyk Studio

Graphic Arts (s Alenou Kučerovou), Jacques Baruch, Chicago

Obrazy a kresby / Paintings and Drawings, Galerie Václava Špály, Praha

Grafika / Prints, Galerie Václava Špály, Praha
Adriena Šimotová: soudobá česká grafika a kresba (s Jiřím Johnem) / Adriena Šimotová: Contemporaary Czech Prints and Drawings
Oblastní galerie, Liberec

Obrazy a grafika, / Paintings and Prints, Galerie Československý spisovatel, Praha

Pastely a tempery, Síň lidové demokracie (s Věrou Janouškovou), Praha /
Pastels and Temperas, Lidová demokracie Hall (with Věra Janoušková),
Group exhibitions not included in ARTLIST.
Flexible 3, Oberösterreichisches Landsmuseum, Linec; Galeria Sztuki
Współczesnej, Vratislav; Dutch textile Museum, Tilburg; Kunst Museum Bayreuth, Bayreuth

K nebi, Galerie Štenberk, Šternberk / To Heaven, Gallery Šterneberk,
Světlo, stíny, odlesky, Muzeum Kroměřížska, Kroměříž / Lights, Shadows, Reflections, Kroměříž Museum
Le regardement, Musée de ľ Hospice st. Roch, Ville d´Issoudun, Issoudun

Entgegen, Religiongedächtnis, Štýrský Hradec / Stadt Gratz Skulptur, Weiblich, Figur, Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum, Linec

Kořeny, Mánes Praha / Roots, Mánes Prague

Respekt: Vzpomínka na budoucnost, Richterova vila, Pražský hrad, Praha / Recollection of the Future, Richter Villa, Prague Castle

Glaube: Hofnung: Liebe: Tod, Kunsthalle, Vídeň

Europa – Europa, das Jahrhundert der Avantgarde in Mittel und
Osteuropa, Kunst – Ausstellunghalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland,
Česká grafika šedesátých let, Národní galerie v Praze, Praha / Czech graphic Art of the 1960s, National Gallery in Prague
Dialogue with the others, Kunsthallen, Brands Klaedefabrik, Odense

Pět osobností, Strahovský klášter, Praha / Five Personalities, Strahov Monastery, Prague
Identity today, the Contemporary Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak art,
Centre de conférences Albert Borschette, Brusel

V dimenzích prázdna / In the Dimensions of Emptiness, Galerie výtvarného umění, Roudnice nad Labem, Umělecká beseda, Mánes, Praha
D´une generation L´autre, Musée d´art Moserne de la Ville de Paris
Luzy Espíritu, Pabellón las Artes, Sevilla

Tradition und avantgarde in Prag, Kunsthalle Dominikanerkirche, Osnabrück; Landesmuseum, Bonn
Détente, Dům umění, Brno; Museum des Jahrhunderts, Vídeň; Kiscelli
Múzeum, Budapešť, 1992, Fondazione Mudina, Milán, 1992

Les Pragois, Galerie Lamaigner-Saint Germain, Paříž
40 artistes tchèques et slovaques, Musée de Luxembourg, Paříž Inoffiziel, Museum der Stadt, Řezno
Czech Art in Velvet Revolution, Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor New York

Triennale rysunku, Vratislav / Triennale of Drawings, Wroclav

Expressiv, Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Vídeň, Hirschhorn Museum and Sculptures Garden, Washington D.C. 1988

Kunst mit Eigen-sinn, Museum 20. Jahrhundert, Vídeň Siècle de Kafka, Centre George Pompidou, Paříž

Acht Künstler aus Prag, Künstwerkstätten, Mnichov The 15th International Biennnial of Graphic Art, Lublaň

Triennal Contemporary Art, Museum of Modern Art, Dillí / Delhi

Contemporary Paintings of Eastern Europe and Japan, National Museum of Modern Art,Osaka, Museum of Art, Kjóto

Eleven Contemporary Artists from Prague, New York University, Michigan University, Ann Arbor

Internationalle Bienalle der Graphic, Heidelberg
Česká portrétní malba XX. století, Dům umění města Brno / Czech portrait paintings of the 20™ century, House of Art. Brno

The international Biennal Exhibition of Prints in Tokyo, Museum of Modern Art, Tokio

The 11th International Biennal of Graphic Art, Lublaň

Internationalle Bienalle Der Graphik, Frechen

The 10th International Biennal of Graphic Art, Ljubljana

Premio Biella Per L´incisione, Biella

Biennale Internazionalle della Grafica, Florencie
The 7th International Biennal Exhibition of Print in Tokyo, Tokio
Cien Grabados, Cien Fotografias, Universidad National Autonoma, Ciudad de México

6 Graveurs tchèques, Galerie La Hune, Paříž
Obraz 69, Celostátní výstava současné malířské tvorby, Moravská galerie, Brno / PICTURE 69, Nationwide Exhibition of Contemporary Paintings, Moravian Gallery, Brno

Czechoslovak Contemporary Graphic Art, Monetary Fund, Washington

The 7th International Biennal of Graphic Art, Lublaň Mostra d´arte contemporanea Cecoslovacca, Turín

UB 12, Dům umění Brno / UB 12, House of Art, Brno The International Biennal of Young Artists, San Marino

UB 12, Nová síň, Praha / UB 12, Nová síň Gallery, Prague
UB 12, Oblastní galerie výtvarného umění, Zlín / UB 12, Regional Gallery of Fine Arts, Zlín
Tvůrčí skupina UB 12, Československá spisovatel/ Creative group UB 12, Československý spisovatel Gallery, Prague
Jaro 62, Mánes, Praha / Spring 62, Mánes, Prague

IV. přehlídka Československého umění, Mánes, Jízdárna Pražského hradu, Praha / Fourth Czechoslovak Art Show, Manes, Riding School of the Prague Castle, Prague

I. celostátní výstava mladých, Dům umění, Brno / First Nationwide Exhibition of Young Art, House of Art, Brno

Výstava pěti, Alšova síň, Praha / Exhibition of five, Ales Hall, Prague
Alšova jihočeská galerie
Galerie Benedikta Rejta
Galerie hl. města Prahy
Galerie Klatovy-Klenová
Galerie moderního umění, Hradec Králové
Galerie moderního umění, Roudnice nad Labem
Galerie výtvarného umění, Litoměřice
Moravská galerie Brno
Národní galerie v Praze
Západočeská galerie, Plzeň
Albertina, Vídeň
Teh Art of Institute, Chicago
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paříž
Du Mesnil Collection, Houston
Gabinetto disegni e stampe degli Uffizi
Library of Congress, Washington D. C.
Musée d´Art et d´Histoire, Ženeva
Musée D´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paříž
Museum of Art, Kyoto
Muzeum Sztuki, Lodž
Museum of Art, Seoul
Muzeum Sztuki Wspólczesnej, Wroclav



Hodrová Daniela: Zář, A2 kultruní týdeník 10/2008


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