Vratislav Karel Novák (1942-2014) was a sculptor, designer of original jewellery and a teacher. His work defies clear categorisation; it transcends the boundaries of individual disciplines and thus represents a wholly unique phenomenon in Czech art since the late 1960s. In Novák’s work, the geometric rationality of Constructivism is juxtaposed and intermingled with subversive irony; likewise, the hardness and sharpness of metal and glass is contrasted with the vulnerable sensuality of the human body. Novák’s sculptural objects are often kinetic or intentionally interactive, embodying the artist’s reflections on the ‘cosmological clockwork’ in an intimate dialogue with the specific reality of the viewer. Novák’s most famous work is the Metronome (1991) permanently installed on Letná Plain, Prague, on the site of the former Stalin Monument.

The exhibition at GASK, which shows Novák’s work in three of the gallery’s exhibition spaces (Blackbox, Whitebox and Printmaking Crossovers), features a ‘tailor-made’ selection of his oeuvre, including large monumental pieces (presented through original photographs), kinetic objects and a small-scale collection of his jewellery. The artist’s daughter, Kateřina Nora Nováková, PhD, curator of the Museum of Glass and Jewellery in Jablonec nad Nisou, and the artist’s wife, doc. M.A. Ludmila Šikolová, lecturer at the Department of Design, Faculty of Textile Engineering, Technical University of Liberec, are working with GASK on the exhibition’s conception.

The exhibition is directly connected with the installing of Novák’s monumental steel sculpture Planets – Circles (design 1996, production 2009) on the site of a former Baroque lime kiln behind the Jesuit College as part of the long-term project Open-air GASK.