Ludmila Padrtová

Ludmila Padrtová

Born September 14 1931, Třeboň
Died January 24 2016

Ludmila Padrtová is an extraordinary artist who created an impressive collection of paintings and drawings in the second half of the 50s in near seclusion and who can be included in a wide stream of post-war Lyrical Abstraction. Her significant efforts of that time place her, according to art historians, along with Vladimír Boudník, among the leading personalities of the beginnings of Czech Informel. However, it soon fell into obscurity, as the artist had finished with painting by 1961, and she either gave away or destroyed a considerable part of her works in the following years. Padrtová returned to creative arts and started to draw again fifty years later, in 2011. She has created several hundred drawings and collages, which extraordinarily complement her early works.
(Ladislav Daněk)

painting, drawing, photography


Thanks to Jiří Padrta (1929–1978), her future husband, she participated in landscape-painting courses, as she put it – "in the background". The courses were organised by the Pedagogical Faculty of the Charles University, Prague and they took place in South Bohemia, particularly around Třeboň. She met professor Martin Salcman's (1898–1979) assistants Kamil Linhart (1920–2006), Vladislav Mirvald (1921–2003) and Zdeněk Sýkora (1920–2011), who encouraged her to draw.


Beginnings of her systematic art work. After graduating from the Secondary Grammar School in Třeboň (1949) she moved to Prague to get a job. During her walks through the outskirts of Prague she started to create A4 dry pastel drawings.
With support from Jiří Padrta and his artistic friends, her efforts to render landscape "shifted from an imitative form towards freer composition as well as brushwork." Her drawings are distinguished by rich colours, stemming from the transposition of natural perceptions. Her artistic opinions were formed during that period, thanks to theoretical discussions with Martin Salcman's students, namely Jiří Padrta. Only a few examples of her work from that period have been preserved.


The second phase of her work. She married Jiří Padrta and their flat became a place of lively intellectual activity. She further developed oil painting techniques and her pictures returned to the topics of her earlier work. Her predominantly natural scenes were expressive, both in form and colour, revealing the artist's fascination for Expressionism but, on the other hand, her feeling for the original representation of colour composition cannot go unnoticed. She painted the picture titled Bez názvu (Mořská krajina) / Untitled (A Seascape), which anticipated her later peak pictures of abstract character from 1956–1959 with vital painting craftsmanship and a liberation of colour stain.


The third peak phase of her work from 1950's. A set of paintings was created, of which about 30 are known today, and several hundreds of drawings, out of which about 250 have survived. Both paintings and drawings, mentioned by experts today, especially in connection to the Tachisme, a gestural and structural form of painting in vogue at that time in Europe as well as overseas, may perhaps best be included in a wide stream of Lyrical Abstraction. Along with Vladimír Boudník (1924–1968), the artist's works, created over four years, were so remarkable that she can be considered one of the central figures of the Czech post-war Lyrical Abstraction.


Blue (painting)
Untitled (drawing)
Untitled (drawing)


Besides free drawing and painting, for her own pleasure, she sporadically engaged in illustrations for Novalis's Heinrich von Ofterdingen. The titles of paintings by Karel Boháček, whose monography Padrta was working on at that time, inspired her to create drawings (quasi-illustrations), in which she returned to particular natural motifs. Drawings created for The Loving Shepherdess by Robinson Jeffers, which she glued directly into the binding instead of the original illustrations by Ludmila Jiřincová were, on the contrary, abstract. The artist's interest in the search for the relationship between text and image was concluded with illustrations for the story Golden Apples of the Sun by Ray Bradbury, which were published under her maiden name Rencová in 1962 in a book titled Labyrinth. Anthology of western science fiction stories.


Untitled (drawing)


A set of about 10 paintings was created and titled The Revenge to the Informel, of which only 4 canvases were preserved. "The works are partly depictive and partly abstract, they use elements of sarcasm and caricature aiming to attack the non-depictive tendencies, highly appreciated at that time and taking the lead in Czech painting." This cycle was the end of the artist's work for several decades. "She also confirmed the final and conclusive end over the following years by either giving away, throwing away or burning a considerable part of her works, including the works of her last cycle." Helena Meistrová wrote her master's thesis on Ludmila Padrtová (Brno 2010) and this is by far the most detailed account of the artist's work. According to Meistrová "slightly less than forty paintings and about two hundred and fifty drawings have been preserved to this day. Works that we know today were created over a period of only six years." During that time – and in fact even in the following decades – only her close family and friends knew about her work.


She photographed natural motifs as a private hobby. She created colour photographs in small formats during her stays in South Bohemia (for example around Soběslav, Třeboň and elsewhere). Theoretician Jaroslav Anděl was enthralled by the photographs and in 1979 he included them in the Photographic Confrontations exhibition (Gorzów, Poland). Since then nobody has theoretically dealt with the artist's photographic work and unfortunately it is not accessible today as a whole. However, the topics as well as the form of vision of her photographic work correspond with her drawing style.


Fotografické konfrontace (group exhibition, Gorzów Wielkopolski)


Two of her drawings from 1956 were included in the exhibition titled Mezi tradicí a experimentem. Práce na papíře a s papírem v českém výtvarném umění 1939–1989 / Between Tradition and Experiment. Works on Paper and with Paper in Czech Fine Art 1939–1989, thanks to Jiří Valoch. The exhibition was organized by the Olomouc Museum of Art (re-run in Jihlava 1998, Krakow 2001). It was the first ever public reminder of the artist's free drawing work. The Museum acquired both drawings for its collection and this laid the foundation for the largest collection of the artist's works in public collections, which today numbers 6 paintings and 6 drawings. Jiří Valoch published the first study on her work, titled Ludmila Padrtová. Zapomenutá osobnost českého informelu / Ludmila Padrtová. Forgotten personality of Czech Informel, in Prostor Zlín.


The Gallery of Modern Art in Hradec Králové in cooperation with Jiří Valoch organised her first independent exhibition accompanied by a catalogue.


Zdenek Primus put her work in the context of Czech art of the turn of the 1960's at the Umění je abstrakce. Česká vizuální kultura 60. let / Art Is Abstraction. Czech Visual Culture of 1960's exhibition, organized in the Prague Castle Riding School. (Reruns Brno 2003, Olomouc 2003–2004).


Olomouc Museum of Art presented a collection of the artist's paintings from the 1960's and later works byVáclav Cigler, Milan Knížák, Jiří Kolář, Karel Malich, Zdeněk Sýkora and Aleš Veselý at the Central European Forum Olomouc 2009 exhibition.


Helena Meistrová graduated from the Philosophical Faculty of the Masaryk University in Brno by defending her master's thesis Ludmila Padrtová, in which she dealt with a detailed division of the then complete early work of the artist into periods and styles within the context of that time.
Years in Days. Czech Art 1945–1957 (group exhibition, Prague)


After a fifty year break, she resumed her drawing around the middle of February, upon an impulse from Milan Mikuš. Between February and May she created an impressive set of about 120 drawings, made especially with dry pastel and divided into cycles: Návraty – snové krajiny / Returns – Dream Landscapes, Návraty – čárování / Dreams – Lining, Návraty – vodní cesty, proudy, hladiny / Returns – Waterways, Streams, Water Surfaces, Návraty – loučení s vodou jižních Čech / Returns – A Farewell to Waters of South Bohemia, Návraty – krajiny / Returns – Landscapes, Návraty – doteky ruky, pastelu a papíru / Returns – A Touch of Hand, Pastel and Paper, Návraty – dvojkresby a poezie / Returns – Double Drawings and Poetry, Návraty – zahrada Vlkov / Returns – Vlkov Garden. She created other drawings from June of that year to the current day

Muzeum umění Olomouc 2011-2022