The basis of Jiří Hilmar’s work is the theme of space, which he understands not just as a three-dimensional delineation but also as an environment, a milieu, the historical and social aspects of which are shaped by humans. To Hilmar, however, the issue of human existence is not a question of the individual but of a relationship in which humans form an inseparable part of a greater whole – that whole being nature.
This exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in Hradec Králové consists of a selection of Hilmar’s object and reliefs created between the years 1977 and 2002 from the same material: wood. These are key works, which embody the artist’s musings about the relationship between humans and nature using three approaches: from the forceful shattering of a naturally-grown whole into an artificial structure (Buk – Beech, 1977), to the reverse process of connecting fragments into a whole (Rekonstrukce lesa – Reconstruction of a Forest, 1985–1986), all the way to the contemplative level of mutual permeation between natural energy and the artist’s creative energy (Ztracená rovnováha – Lost Balance, 1989).
Jiří Hilmar was born on May 28th, 1937, in Hradec Králové. In the years 1952–1956, he studied at the College of Decorative Arts (Vyšší odborná škola uměleckoprůmyslová) in Prague in the atelier of prof. Richard Pípal. In 1967, he co-founded the Club of Concretists (Klub konkrétistů). In 1969, he moved to Germany and, in 1983, co-founded the group of artists called Die Gruppe Gerade and, in the mid 90s, took part in a research residence in Chile. In the years 2005–2008, he collaborated with the University of Dortmund. In 2013, he was awarded honorary citizenship by his native city of Hradec Králové and moved back to the Czech Republic for good.