THE LANDSCAPE AND MIND OF MILOŠ ŠEJN
29. September 2021
"I wanted to abolish the conventional idea of how to depict the landscape," says intermediate artist Miloš Šejn, whose work explores the relationship between nature, body, and mind. In a new episode of the docuseries Art in Isolation, he recalls his childhood escapism in forested environments and the raids of Soviet tanks in August 1968.
"In 1977, I exhibited photographs taken from the Prachov Rocks and Giant Mountains. But it was shut down on the grounds that I was depicting a devastated landscape. That amused me a lot. And a female classmate of mine who wrote a few lines about that exhibition for the communist periodical Czech for Red Justice (CZ: Rudé právo) was later unable to publish anything for a whole year," says Šejn, for whom the wilderness has become a map of his relationship to the place. His work eventually led him to an expressive artistic language known as transparent body – the result of a creative act that is not limited to any specific medium and in which everything merges into a single creative whole.
Why Art in Isolation?
The artistic activity took a strong hit. Exhibitions began to get canceled, various regulations affected direct interaction with colleagues, spectators, and the world stage. Questions about the meaning of art, an artist's mission, and boundaries of freedom emerged yet again. The testimonies of the artists who were creating their art during the communist regime in Czechoslovakia are an important memento of a time gone by and an inspiration for the search for meaningful answers in the present. With or without the crisis.
The stories of artists in the time of totality carry on. You can watch each episode on social media and web platforms of the two associated institutions, Kunsthalle Praha & Post Bellum–Memory of Nations.
Miloš Šejn (*1947) made a great leap from traditional landscape painting towards expressive language involving not only visual forms but also a whole wide range of relationships between artist and nature. The intermediate artist works with painting, drawing, photography, video, and art installations. He physically involves himself in his work and also makes use of various natural processes – for him, the wilderness is an endless source of inspiration and the foundation of creation. His works are a record or result of specific events, experiments in the great outdoors, or a collection of natural pigments. He's interested in the relationship between nature and art as a state of mind; his work is difficult to categorize and ranks as one of the most original creative outputs in contemporary Czech art.