Jan Hladík was present on the international scene between the 1960s through 1980s as one of the noteworthy representatives of original woven tapestry. His textile work carries a dialogue with liberal art, painting, drawing and graphics. Jan Hladík’s fine art orientation began with graphic work.
During the 1940s-1950s he was interested in the principles that shaped cubism, which was reflected in many etchings and linocuts. In 1959 he wove his first original tapestry and at the same time he obtained his own press. Graphics became an area of chamber dialogue with existential topics which was also common for his monumental structural tapestries.
During the 1960s he created tens of graphical sheets that enjoyed recognition as highly cultivated works with painting qualities, anchored in the contexts of modern art. Jan Hladík inventively experimented with unconventional materials and untraditional printing processes. His assemblages, structural collages, use of varnish, emery paper, textiles, wire and sand that were often finished with etchings or drawings, were classified in the Czech informel; the subjects included symbols, archetype ancient shapes, mythical animals, and fanciful figures.
Starting in 1971 and for the subsequent 30 years he pursued figural work in graphics and tapestry. Using the linear etching technique he paraphrased portraits by Leonard El Greco, Rembrandt and other masters. He accomplished expressional and technical excellence in capturing the psychological and emotional feeling of his figures. At the end of the 1990s he returns to abstract symbols in graphical intimate format and the technique of dry needle. Here he also reaches existential urgency.
While graphics were represented in all important exhibitions of Hladík’s tapestries, painting remains the artist’s private, until now unappreciated field, although he pursued it intensely from the 1950s until 1970s. More than 300 paintings often represent a parallel world to the motives of abstract tapestry and graphics; his subjects from the 1960s include figural motives tied in with current motives of expressional neo-primitivism. We can classify Hladík’s highly cultivated painting work characteristic for his inventive composition processes and distinctive colours in the stream of post-war modernism.
Ludmila Kybalová, Jan Hladík – Gobeiny-obrazy-grafika, katalog, Mladá fronta, 1963
Jan Tomeš, Jan Hladík: Grafika, katalog, SČUG Hollar, 1970
Iva Janáková, Jan Hladík:Grafika, katalog, Pražský hrad, 1995
SČUG Hollar 1917-1992 – Současná česká grafika, eds F. Dvořák, J. Lhota, J. Machalický, Praha 1992