Czech painter Miroslav Houst turned fifty this year. An exhibition of his work opened on Thursday at the Miro Art Gallery in Prague under the motto "Respect for Tradition". The reason - Miroslav Houst is a painter of realism, a style which is sometimes looked down upon by supporters of avant-garde art. The artistic work of the Czech Academy of Arts graduate Miroslav Houst is a continuation of the centuries-old and ongoing classical pictorial tradition.
The artist creates not only monumental figural compositions with mythological themes or subjects from Czech history, but also intimate still-lifes, portraits and romantic landscape paintings of Bohemian mountain forests or gay, sunny skies of the Italian region of Calabria. I asked Mr Houst whether he considered himself a painter of tradition.
"Why not? This question is very interesting for me. But maybe, yes. Am I a man of tradition? I don't know - this question is very complicated for me! (laughs)."
Czech Realist painting was in its prime in the 19th century, and Miroslav Houst looks at the era with respect.
"This time was very interesting and very rich for painting, for Czech culture. Yes, I have some favourites. For example, Mikolas Ales, Vaclav Brozik, Hynais, Kosarek and also Chittussi. But this name is an Italian name. It is very nice for me because I like Italian culture and also the Italian language (laughs)."
Miroslav Houst has his favourite landscapes, too. Both in Bohemia and the Italian region of Calabria, which he calls his second home.
"I like for example the Sumava Mountains and in Italy the special part of south Italy, Calabria. It is my second home."
Miroslav Houst's approach to his art is not very typical today. He systematically studies the pictorial techniques of the past which results in his distinctive use of colour. He uses natural colour pigments that he often mixes himself.
"For me it is to know well the techniques and technologies of painting, graphic and colours. I make my colours myself, for example. This work is very old, from ancient times. But a good result starts with good technology and technique. This is very important for me. I have, for example, pigments and resins and I also make my own colours for graphic art. This is maybe interesting in this time."
At Thursday's opening of the exhibition of Miroslav Houst's paintings and graphics at the Miro Art Gallery, the artist was awarded the European Union of Arts Award and a monograph of his paintings and graphic works published to commemorate the artist's 50th birthday was presented to the public.
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