Ladislav Nebeský – Poeta (non) ludens

3 Mar – 6 Apr 2014

The exhibition is part of the project Shelf at the Art Archive at DOX.

Ladislav Nebeský is primarily known to the public due to his inclusion in the notorious anthology entitled Vrh kostek [A Throw of the Dice], presenting the work of thirteen important protagonists of the first and second generation of Czech experimental poetry of the 1960s. While some of the other authors in the anthology switched to visual art, and others into more or completely semantic literature or ceased to create, Ladislav Nebeský, after a twenty-year hiatus that he devote to his profession of mathematics, is continuing along the path upon which he embarked so long ago.

Regardless of whether we look at experimental visual poetry as literature or art, the book is an ideal tool for its presentation and absorption. Ladislav Nebeský is the author of five collections of experimental poetry - Bílá místa [White Places] (2006), Za hranice stránek [Beyond the Border of Pages] (2008), Vrstvy [Layers] (2010), Obrazce slov [Word Diagrams] (2011) and Obrazy ke čtení [Pictures for Reading] (2012), which were however published as traditional books. This author’s book, created ad hoc for Polička, provides a cross-section of his work and gives us an opportunity to encounter originals of poems created at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of 1970s (for example with oft-cited texts from Brána Jazyků) as well as his latest, as yet unpublished work, and simultaneously spurs us to consider how experimental work somewhere on the border between visual and literary art is not outside of poetic tradition, but rather often creates unexpected parallels to it.

At the beginning of the book, we encounter poems from a set of experimental poems entitled Nehra [Ungame] (1965). They are often meta-poems, i.e. poems within poems, self-referential, which however do not lose their semantic effect, plus often have something akin to the economical magic of Japanese haiku.


at the end

of a quatrain

is written

at the start


here one word omitted

two are omitted

here three


The wordless, invisible fifth verse of cinquain has the characteristic of an answer to a Zen koan – a riddle whose existence can deduced logically.

The subject of invisibility of words and symbols is on of the main principles of Nebeský’s poetics from the 1990s until now. Nebeský touches invisibility with the help of something known, we construct the “invisible words” in his poems in alphabetical sequences or circles, which after self-destruction are renewed in with a different appearance.

Lucie Rohanová