Dehnel, Němec: The Art of Writing on Art

16 Sep 2023, 5:30 PM

Let’s get straight to it, before we divert you

Admission: basic admission CZK 150 | reduced admission CZK 100 | 30% discount for DOX Club members 

Language: English and Czech

The event takes place as part of the FALL festival.

Gulliver Airship
Poupětova 1, Prague 7
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How do writers translate the life and work of famous artists to the page? How do they transform composition, texture, paint, or light into words? Blanka Činátlová will discuss these questions with Jacek Dehnel, author of Saturn, an original interpretation of the life and art of Francisco Goya, and Jan Němec, author of Dějiny světla (A history of light), a gripping biographical novel about the world-renowned modernist photographer František Drtikol.

In Saturn: Black Paintings from the Lives of the Men in the Goya Family, the inner rage and unfulfilled ambitions of the genius painter Francisco Goya come to life and clash with the thwarted expectations of his son and grandson, who are doomed to live in the shadow of the great artist. The voices of the three narrators (the father Francisco, the son Javier, and the grandson Mariano) describe the crucial moments of the end of Goya’s life, each from their own perspective. Inspired by the debate that art historians have been conducting for years, Dehnel brings to the fore the disputed authorship of Goya’s Black Paintings and offers a disturbing insight into the abyss of the human soul and the pitfalls of the most basic human relationships: father and son, man and woman, master and follower.

Dějiny světla (2013) is Jan Němec’s impressive account of the life of the world-famous modernist photographer František Drtikol (1883–1961). This extensive, fresco-like, artistic and spiritual Bildungsroman covers over half a century, bringing to life the silver mines of Drtikol’s native town of Příbram, the Jugendstil art scene in Munich, and the bohemian lifestyle of the 1930s, with naked models wandering along his lines and light merging unobserved with knowledge…

Jacek Dehnel (1980) studied Polish language and literature at the University of Warsaw. He entered the literary world with his poetry (he is the author of seven collections of poetry), but in recent years he has primarily published prose. He is also a translator and visual artist. His critically acclaimed novel Lala was published in 2006, followed by Saturn in 2011, which was nominated for the 2012 Nike Literary Award. The book was also a finalist for the Angelus Literary Award in 2012. Dehnel also co-wrote the screenplay for the film Loving Vincent (2017), which was inspired by the life and work of Vincent van Gogh.

Jan Němec (1981) studied religious studies and sociology. Today he lectures at the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno. He is the author of the novels Dějiny světla (2013), for which he won the European Union Prize for Literature, and Možnosti milostného románu (The possibilities of a romance novel, 2019), which was nominated for the Magnesia Litera Prize. With Petr Vizina, he co-authored Znamení neznámého (Signs of the unknown, 2021), a book of interviews about contemporary spirituality. His books have been translated into fifteen languages. He is the editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine Host, and he regularly collaborates with Czech Radio.

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