Jaroslav J. Alt Svitálka

Jaroslav Alt paints insights into the landscape on large canvases. In his studio we also examined small sketches in pencil, ink and watercolours. For their unique charm, I have selected them for Svitálka alongside his paintings and poems. Polish philosopher and Catholic priest Jozef Tischner wrote that there are times when we discover that someone else is also walking along our path. Jaroslav Alt tries to capture such moments between heaven and earth. With self-restraint he allows us to read in Nine Open Letters, in the waves of the Mediterranean, on a mountaintop, at home in the Trstěnice Garden, where someone else has taken up residence. Jaroslav Alt discusses it in his reflection The Green Man in my Landscape (on the Picture)

Philosopher and theologian David Bartoň from Petrkov accompanies the exhibition with a text and discovery of a previously unknown poem by Bohuslav Reynek. Art historian and art theoretician Blanka Altová writes about the nature of Jaroslav Alt´s work in her article The Ur-Landscape of my Husband. Texts of painer´s friends Seeing Things As They Return to Themselves by philosopher Ladislav Benyovsky and Bushes, Horizon, Clouds by gallerist Jiří Hůla are available for download below.


A hidden
veiled face
shining through the darkness:

Things have
outlines first,
then shadows
and then, for us,
they return to themselves...

Down below the windows
A rooster
morning’s focus
with a song lifting…

We have one legend for this poem by Reynek, and an attempt at clarification taken from what seem to be random contexts:

Apparently the Petrkov poet composed it not long before his death.

Like the others, he wrote a rough draft in the kitchen by the stove. He read it again, reduced it, and finally drafted a clean copy. He folded the sheet of paper over twice and laid it up on the left corner of the sideboard. The cats didn’t venture much there, and his sons knew about the place. Some poems had been found behind the sideboard and among the drawers when the old man died, but this one had somehow escaped the search. Folded over twice, it fit neatly among the broken sheets of the studies form Stará Říše, and with them found itself in a large chest in the attic. "The soil belongs to those who work on it"; Daniel Reynek quoted in explanation of the intensified dictatorship the cats had established in the castle´s attic. Mating, birthing, dying. The chest with which the family moved to the Florian family in the village Stará Říše during the war, as evidenced by the address written on the bottom in ink pencil, this chest and the old sideboard could have burned up in the back garden during the last cleaning... but for the appearance of a creature no one had counted on. Almost in the dark, and secretly, warned that there wasn´t much time left, he found the familiar sheets from the publishing house in Stará Říše by feel among the newspapers. Only then did the fair copy of a hitherto unknown poem fall out of them.

If the handwriting were not beyond doubt Reynek´s, I would not believe that the poem was his. It looks so different to me.

I happily circulated the rediscovered poem among friends. Jaroslav Alt was among the first to reply. At the time only he knew if it was suited to what he was painting. I was only able to see his paintings later, and I interpret that affinity as best I can - that is, from the outside. I was not there for the birth of the poem, and I was not there for the birth of the paintings. Even if I were to visit the Petrkov corridor on the first floor of the castle a thousand times, where the motif of the poem probably revealed itself, or sat behind Jaroslav, I will still always be a mere spectator. A non-artist like myself can only join the artist by listening to the poem and perceiving the image when he sees the things of this world and the sky above come to life, thanks to Reynek´s and Jaroslav´s skill.

The places where Petrkov and Svitálka both lived are also connected in their memories. They are still within sight of each other. In the wet weather, before the countryside was filled with the constant noise of speeding cars, church bells could be heard on the Petrkov hill from as far away as Krásná Hora. There, at the foot of the hill, opposite the church in Krasná Hora, on the side facing the Lipnice Castle, on Svitálka, the painter Jaroslav Alt was taking in the world.

The connection of bringing reality to life presupposes that it has somehow become dead to us. Reynek was fond of the French philosopher Ernest Hello who uses an unusual expression in “The Physiognomy of the Saints” about the objectification of the heavens and the stars. "Assiduitate viluerunt" - by their permanence (to us) they have become commonplace. St. Augustine´s commentary on the Gospel of John adds a context to this by saying: "Ipse enim deus qui per universam creaturam quotidiana miracula facit, quae hominibus non facilitate sed assiduitate viluerunt". Augustine wonders, then, how this beauty, not by its ease and simplicity, but by its permanence, could have become stale, dead, indifferent, no longer poignant.

Reynek, in one of his last poems, no longer writes what he feels about his anxiety as in an earlier poem of the same name. He writes as if he were no longer there at all, he has become a vision, a hidden, veiled face, to manifest purely and simply, to reveal the vividness of the events of the world which, to our greatest detriment, we usually do not apprehend.

Today´s art worthy of the word does not work with idyllic but real visions. That is why in Bohuslav Reynek´s poems people appear as gods of folly, not unlike real, unremarkable human beings - Mary, Veronica, Joseph, Isaiah, Jesus, who seem to live with him in the courtyard, in the kitchen and the garden. It is a prophecy about us, about today´s successful hybrid people, heroes of applicability in the bustle of our time.

In addition, the beauty of unique corners and views remains to be discovered – here it is also close to Daniel Reynek´s photographs. Jaroslav Alt has this in common with Reynek’s. We do not encounter entire landscapes, nothing large to which we don’t measure up. Sensitivity becomes fragmented when we relate it to quantity; it becomes less deep. So we look at
unusual, unique phenomena to begin the transformation of sight. According to Egon Bondy´s prophecy, the judgment of the world will come soon. He does not say when or how, nor who will carry it out, but I suspect that he is not far from the truth when he exclaims that technical progress and all production will be found wanting, the costliness of the demands of life will be a burden, and the yields of our superconsumption will be shown to be meagre.

In the end, they say, the only thing that will balance out and be found valuable will be art. Not all that is consumed and traded, but only that which turns out to be alive.

But that is already true now. A prophet is not a prognosticator, but a person capable of a deeper and stronger analysis of what is already happening, even if few can see it. He who sharpens the eyes of others helps to bring to light the only consensus that is always worth having, namely, consensus in discernment.

The masses agree in their illusions and together they fall for them. Individuals seek consensus on the meanings hidden behind signs and symbols.

The world´s oldest language, which has already animated consciousness and dreams in cave paintings, speaks differently today. Once all attention was focused on creatures and actions, on hunting, on game and breeding, on human beings and creatures, on the Great Mother and deities in general. Today, there is still an abundance of work concentrated on the subject, which the cavemen depicted as their hand, as its imprint, or negatively. Man depicts himself as fondly as he discusses himself with gusto in speech. The world thus becomes to him the backdrop and background of his supposed greatness. Meanwhile, the originally, as it were, unimportant background has become a subject. Not only did the background, that is, the landscape beneath the scenes, clearly show a human imprint, the imprint of his handiwork, but his face also eerily reflects off the landscape. Long ago, in the Mediterranean, man had burned and cleared most of the forests and eventually the groves, exterminating lions and leopards, wolves and bears, then most of the tamer game, and in the semi-desert he became a herdsman and farmer. Now the human face is legible from a landscape beautiful but inhospitable. Unnumbered pilgrims and sheep wander the arid wastes in Arcadia as in Sicily, and the traces of men, outside their settlements, disappear. The whole thing is an apocalypse, that is, the uncovering of the veil that covered the face of Mother Earth, hiding the geological landscape. To uncover the nakedness of Noah´s father is seen as shameful in Genesis, what to judge of this uncovering of the mother? What does one expect when looking into the face of such naked beauty of color without the veil of life?

It is just such a retreat that captivates me in Jaroslav Alt´s Mediterranean watercolours and pencil and ink drawings of home, where beauty and appearance meet a terrifying desolation.
David Bartoň
Translation by Craig Cravens



Jaroslav J. Alt

21. 6. 1950

He was born on 21 June 1950 in Kutná Hora. He is a teacher, painter, graphic artist and restorer. He studied painting and restoration at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (1969-75) under Prof. Bohuslav Slánský, Karel Veselý and Raimund Ondráček. Habilitated (2004) at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava. He teaches at the Faculty of Humanities, Charles University in Prague, Department of Theory of Art and Artworks and Department of History of Modern European Culture. He lives and works in Trstěnice near Litomyšl and in Prague.


Author exhibitions (selection)
1976 Jaroslav Alt Jr.: Paintings, drawings, Hrádek, Kutná Hora

1981 Jaroslav Alt: paintings, Jiří Třeštík: ceramics, Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the CAS (ÚMCH), exhibition hall, Prague

1983 Jaroslav Alt Jr.: Drawings and Prints, Jiří Třeštík: Figural Ceramics, Tyl Memorial, Kutná Hora

1985 Jaroslav Alt: Graphics, Gallery in the Tower, Mělník

1987 Jaroslav Alt: Graphics, Exhibition and Concert Hall, Mladá Boleslav

1996 Jaroslav Alt: Paintings, Regional Museum Kolín, Atrium Hall, Kolín

1996 Jaroslav Alt, Rod Grover: Přechody / Points of transfer, Kačina Castle, Kačina u Kutné Hory

1997/1998 Jaroslav Alt: Paintings, Galerie bratří Čapků, Prague

1997 Jiří Teper: Poems, Jaroslav J. Alt: Drawings, paintings, Papyrus Gallery, Nymburk

1999 Jaroslav Alt: Paintings, DG Gallery, Brno

1999 Jaroslav Alt, Music between Paintings, Gallery of the Lichtenstein Palace, Prague

1999 Jaroslav Alt: Paintings, Jan Exnar: Glass, Jana Slámová: Tapestries, Regional Museum Kolín

2000 Jaroslav Alt: Paintings, Gallery of Czech Culture, Český Krumlov

2000 Jaroslav J. Alt: Paintings, Gallery of Fine Arts in Havlíčkův Brod, Havlíčkův Brod

2001 Jaroslav J. Alt: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Vlašský dvůr, Kutná Hora

2001 Jaroslav J. Alt: Drawings, Paseka Bookstore Gallery, Prague

2002 Jaroslav J. Alt: Seven Words and Small Injuries, Jiří Jílek Gallery, Šumperk

2003 Jaroslav J. Alt: Paintings, Drawings, Prints and Objects, House of the Knights, Litomyšl

2007 Jaroslav J. Alt: Paintings, drawings, Litomyšl Castle, Litomyšl
2008 Jaroslav J. Alt: Obrazy / Paintings. Stable and More Stable, Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the CAS (IMCH), Exhibition Hall, Prague

2010 Jaroslav J. Alt: Trasmigrazione dell'anima / Moving the Soul, Le ultime sette parole /

The Last Seven Words, Istituto Culturale Ceco Roma (Czech Centre Rome) , Rome (Italy)

2014 Jaroslav J. Alt: Journeys of the Soul (paintings, drawings, prints), Geophysical Institute of the CAS, Exhibition Hall, Prague

2015 Jaroslav J. Alt: The Last Seven Words / Minor Injuries, Polička/Shelf (small gallery of the author's book at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art), Prague

2015/2016 Jaroslav J. Alt: Bushes, Horizon, Clouds, Gallery of the Central Bohemian Region (GASK), Kutná Hora

2016 Jaroslav J. Alt: Paintings, drawings, Gallery of the University of Pardubice, Pardubice

2018 Jaroslav J. Alt: Participation (paintings, drawings), Gallery of the New Town Hall, Prague

2019 Jaroslav J. Alt: Watercolours, ARTARCHIV, Prague

2020 Jaroslav J. Alt: Watercolours, Gallery of Modern Art in Roudnice nad Labem, Roudnice n./L.

2020 Jaroslav J. Alt: Paintings, Drawings, Czech Museum of Silver in Kutná Hora

2021 Walking Behind the Horizon (with Markéta Filipová), CoCo Gallery, Dobrš

2021 Horizons and Valleys (paintings and drawings), Gallery 9, Prague-Vysočany

2022 Svitalka - Jaroslav J. Alt / Paintings, Nová síň Gallery, Prague

Participation in exhibitions (selection)
1973 Still lifes of young artists, Czechoslovak Writer Gallery, Prague

1974 Patronat premi internacional dibuix Joan Miró, Barcelona (Spain)

1979 Visual Artists for Children, Mánes, Prague

1981 Drawing / Printmaking, Hájenka ve Hvězdě, Prague

1981 New work by young visual artists, Mánes, Prague

1983 Space, Architecture, Fine Art, Exhibition Centre Černá Louka, Ostrava (exhibition)

not realized, only the catalogue was realized - see ARTARCHIV)

1984 - 1989 participation in the activities of Gallery H in Kostelec nad Černými lesy, including exhibitions abroad (Japan, Poland)

1987 Contemporary Czech Art, Plovdiv, Pleven, Sofia (Bulgaria)

1989 18th International Biennial of Graphic Art, Moderna galerija Ljubljana, Ljubljana (Yugoslavia)

1989 Contemporary Czech Graphic Art, Mánes, Prague

1989 14: Paintings - Graphic Art, Lidový dům, Prague

1989 14: Paintings - graphics, Municipal House of Culture, České Budějovice

1989 14 Prague Artists, Municipal House of Culture, České Budějovice

1990 The International Biennial Exhibition of Portrait, Drawings and Graphics ´90, The Yugoslav Portrait Gallery, Tuzla (Yugoslavia)

1992 Artisti di Praga a Parma, Parma (Italy)

1992 - 2003 participation in the travelling exhibition Minisalon (Czech Republic, Belgium, USA, Russia, France, Jakarta, Surabaya, etc.)

1993 Contemporary Czech Art, Singen (Germany)

1993 Contemporary Czech Art, Heidenreichsreichstein (Austria)

1993 Biennial of Exlibris, Chrudim

1993 Triennial of Graphic Art, Maastricht (Netherlands)
1994 Tribute to Orten, New Association, Felix Jenewein Gallery of Kutná Hora, Kutná Hora

1994 W kręgu Galerii H, Nicolaus Copernicus Museum, Frombork (Poland)

1994 Czech Graphic Art, Parnas Gallery, Santa Monica, L. A. (USA)

1994 Brothers Hůlové, Gallery H, Gallery of the City of Blansko, Blansko

1995 Na hranici znaku / At the Edge of the Sign (New Association), Felix Jenewein Gallery of Kutná Hora, Kutná Hora

1996 Setkání 14/65/96, New Association, Chodovská tvrz Gallery, Prague

1996 Colour and Form, New Association, Galerie U Řečických, Prague

1996 Graphics of the Year, Central Bohemia Gallery, Prague

1997 Práce na papíře / Works on Paper, Mánes, Prague

1997 Umělci z Nového sdružení Bílému kruhu bezpečí, Galerie U prstenu, Praha

1998 4. auction salon of artists, 312 donors for Bariéry account, Karolinum, Praha

2000 Czech Graphic Art of the 20th Century, Benešov Museum of Art, Benešov

2001 Graphic letters Gallery H, Vinotéka a galerie U Modrého hroznu, Litvínov

2007 Průzračný svět: Podoby vody / Durchsichtige Welt, Gallery of Modern Art in Roudnice nad Labem, Roudnice nad Labem

2007 Die durchsichtige Welt, Landschloss Pirna - Zuschendorf, Pirna - Zuschendorf (Germany)

2007 Collection of the Black Forest School, Museum of Pottery, Kostelec nad Černými lesy

2008 Work on computers, Geophysical Institute of the CAS, lecture hall, Prague

2011 View into the archive 2 - poster, DOX, Small Tower, Prague

2011 Additions to the GFJ collections 1996-2010, Felix Jenewein Gallery of Kutná Hora, Kutná Hora

2011/2012 Artists of the Archive, DOX, Small Tower, Prague

2015/2016 Encounters - Collection of the Geophysical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, DOX, Small Tower, Prague

2016 Paths Can Be Different - Exhibitions of Contemporary Art at the Institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, NTK, Prague

2017 Gallery H, DOX, Small Tower, Prague

2018/2019 Saver for MUD, Museum of Art and Design, Benešov

2019/2020 Krajinow, Museum of Art and Design, Benešov
2022 Minisalon, Nová síň Gallery, Prague
2022 - 2023 Minisalon 1984, Umelka Gallery, Bratislava
2023 Partial drawing of the ring, Comunite Fresca, Inge Kosková, Eva Brodská, Jaroslav J. Alt, Tomáš Džadoň, Zuzana Janečková, Lucie Králíková, Michaela Casková, Kryštof Netolický and Jahou Baul, Kabinet T Gallery, Zlín

Representation in collections
Felix Jenewein Gallery of Kutná Hora

Czech Museum of Silver Kutná Hora

Gallery of Fine Arts in Havlíčkův Brod

City Gallery Litomyšl

National Gallery in Prague

Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague

Museum of Art and Design, Benešov

Art Unidentified, collection, Nishinomiya, Japan

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC), Barcelona, Spain

National Gallery of Art, Washington D. C., USA

Museum of Contemporary Art, Giza, Egypt

and private collections in the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, France and the USA


Selected artworks


Jaroslav Alt paints insights into the landscape on large canvases. In his studio we also examined small sketches in pencil, ink and watercolours. For their unique charm, I have selected them for Svitálka alongside his paintings and poems. Polish philosopher and Catholic priest Jozef Tischner wrote that there are times … more


Wave II, 2020-22


Wave III, 2020-22


Wave IV, 2020-22


Wave VI, 2020-22


Wave VIII, 2020-22


Wave I, 2020


Wave II, 2020


Wave IIa, 2020


Wave III, 2020


Iceland I, 2020


Iceland II, 2020


Iceland III, 2020


Mount I (Parnassus), 2021


Mount II (Parnassus), 2021


Mount IIa (Parnassus), 2012


Mount III (Parnassus), 2021


Mount IV (Parnassus), 2022


Horizon IV, 2020


Horizon V, 2020


New Horizon VII, 2020


Large Horizon I, 2019-20


Horizon II, 2019


Large Horizon II, 2019-20


Horizon III, 2020


Large Horizon III, 2020


Valley I, 2020


Valley II, 2020


Great Valley II, 2020


Valley III, 2020


Valley IV, 2020


Valley VII, 2020


Valley XI (Little Rain), 2020


Great Valley I, 2020


Two Bushes, 2014


Grey Bush, 2015


Green Bush, 2015


Along the Bushes, 2014


I am Who I am (Exodus 3:14) I, 2015


Way I, 2022


Way II, 2022


Way III, 2022


Way V, 2022


Way VIII, 2022


White Cloud, 2015

Nine Open Letters

Letter I, 2020


Letter II, 2020


Letter III, 2020


Letter IV, 2020


Letter V, 2020


Letter VI, 2020


Letter VII, 2020


Letter VIII, 2020


Letter IX, 2020

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