Germann Auctionhouse Zurich
Part I: Paintings, Works on Paper and Sculptures
Monday, 19 June 2023, 06:00 pm

Mikuláš Medek, Zranění žluté barvy (Injuries of Yellow Colour)

Lot 106

Mikuláš Medek, 1926-1974 (CZ)

Zranění žluté barvy (Injuries of Yellow Colour), 1965

Oil and mixed media on canvas.
H 1000 mm W 660 mm.

Verso signed, dated and titled: M. Medek, 1965, Zranění žluté barvy.

CHF80'000 / 120'000
EUR81'000 / 120'000
USD88'000 / 130'000

Hammer Price: CHF 260'000

Swiss Private Collection, acquired directly from the artist;
Swiss Private Property.

We are grateful to Adéla Procházková and Eva Kosáková for their confirmation of authenticity by email of the present work of art and their kind assistance in cataloguing.

The work of art will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist.


Human fate, human existence in its tragic, picturesque and painful reality - this is the essential theme of Mikuláš Medek's oeuvre.
At the beginning of his artistic career, the Czech artist (1926-1974) found in Surrealism a suitable attitude to discuss the issues that preoccupied him. In ambiguous, sometimes ironic pictorial compositions with elongated bodies and strong coloring, he, who was in constant conflict with the communist dictatorship, discusses how the human psyche deals with repression, violence and a lack of perspective.
At the end of the 1950s, Medek's oeuvre underwent a change from figurative surrealism to abstract painting. The artist combines organic, microscopic forms with abstract geometric elements and symbols, accentuating the compositions with a mystical darkness of colors. Medek's painting style develops into a complex and lengthy process during this phase. In several layers, he applies paint for weeks to the large-format canvases. He treats the paint layer and the colour like something alive: he works, scratches and perforates them intensively with a spatula, knife, brush and fingernails. The painting Zranění žluté barvy (Injuries of Yellow Colour) from 1965 illustrates the haunting effect of this painting process. The traces of devastation give the surface of the painting a relief-like appearance and the suffering is transferred to the yellow-gold colour, creating a cosmos with painful and mysterious dimensions.
Medek: "A painting is a kind of sensitive surface touched by a psychic event that, continuing the process of movement, leaves behind it an objective report of its existence within a system of tracks and impressions."¹
His abstract surrealism served the artist as a refuge from tormenting ideas and the threats of life, the painting process as a kind of catharsis. He remained faithful to his artistic and moral compass even in a totalitarian environment hostile to modern art and intellectual freedom. In his relatively short life, Mikuláš Medek created an oeuvre that was inspiring for future generations of artists and, with its independence, is one of the most important positions in Czech visual art of the 20th century.

¹Mikulás Medek, in: Exhibition catalogue. Bohumir Mraz, Mikulas Medek, Prag 1970, page 44.

Information about the artist

Mikuláš Medek was a Czech painter and sculptor. Born on November 3, 1926, in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and died on March 23, 1974, Medek was one of the significant representatives of Czech Surrealism. His works were characterized by introspective and symbolic depictions of the human experience. Medek employed a variety of techniques and materials, including oil painting, watercolors, and sculptures. His works often addressed existential themes, dreams, and the unconscious. Mikuláš Medek had a significant impact on the Czech art scene of the 20th century.