Text for the exhibition Nymphaeum – Caesar Gallery

The Nymphaeum from Somewhere Else

“When they speak of academism, it’s as if it were a dirty word!”

The pejorative nature of the term ‘academism’, referring to European painting and sculpture from the last third of the 19th century, seems to be almost impossible to overcome – at least in our country – a legacy of modernism, which rules the taste of the majority of society. Why is this so, when ‘classic’ modernism or the reductive tendencies of the 1960s are not still completely comprehensible, this is the question; and for such a small country, one that is inexplicable, for many given connections are due to the emphasis on nationality, which is fairly historical by now. Also, in the first, state-forming, Czechoslovak Republic – refusing everything from the (Austrian) past – one spoke and (even acted) more ‘modern’, and even here the internationalist dimension of salon art had legions of champions and admirers at that time.1/ Refusing academism was even – with the dictate of national progress – perceived as a question of good or bad taste, and the former Czechoslovak Masaryk-led state of the time paid tidy sums for artistic goods – mostly of French provenance, but domestic as well.2/ Today an analogous connecting of definable social interests, finance, and art – it seems – is no longer valid. The clueless boundlessness over the state of today’s (non)cultural (un)political contemporary Czech Republic is now just the logical result of not looking at the issues of the past, for the ever-growing phenomenon, at least in the Prague municipal apparatus, is that artistic pieces are “for free”!

At the dawn of the 21st century we do meet with art, and with “art” which can be anything. The condition is “only” its institutionalisation – and on our home turf, that could be anything, even a rabbit breeders’ association. Artists, especially here, do not have it easy. In the unprecedented absence of public commissions, to the world of the visions and visual sensations of the virtual networks of the internet, they must – and sculptors especially, for their positions are truly tied to matter, with which time management is unusually difficult – truly engage….

MojDa – David Moješčík – is one of that not large group of sculptors of the middle generation who do not teach at universities, who do not work to their utmost as a source of labour for others, but instead prefer to fulfil their own programmes. His philosophical and creative works are influenced by the fin de siècle phenomenon – this liberally powerful creative epoch, manifesting itself like the delta of a mighty river,3/ in which out of the mental depths often flow contradictory streams –as if it is only in the tension that they always sink or disappear forever into oblivion, or just vegetate in the shallows of the (sub)environment pools of an oxbow. Here the artist is something like a fisherman: he takes suitable visions and ideas and the rejected ones are thrown back. At the same time David Moješčík is a skilful modeller, a substantial figuralist, who works with postmodern subjects and symbolic visions of spiritual yoga. Such a background was determined by his family, since childhood, for his father Miloslav was interested in yoga.4/ At the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Technical University in Brno under Michal Gabriel5/ he stood out. I remember being in one of the exam juries, where Moješčík’s sophisticated exhibited figure captivated us all. It wasn’t the obstinate narrative of the modeller, following with photographic exactness the look of a given model, rather he was attempting at a classic, at the ideal of beauty; for his work on a figure – the female figure – was rather the reflection of individual studies of more than one model.

David Moješčík generates his figures and their postures in different ways. Characteristic for him are rather complicated sculptural positions and unusual postures in which at the same time they overcome the usual difficulties of their own stasis; the final appearance of the statues is conditioned by the sought ideal relationships of the details to the whole – as a rule, naked female beauty. His nudes are perfect, even though they may seem distant. This feeling is underscored by the unsettling stiffness of the corpus; it is as if the “bodies” were controlled by the hidden interior movement of a future moment when after exhalation and inhalation, they “must” come to life! Peculiar to Moješčík’s work are his Levitace [Levitations], which the artist has elaborated for several years now in multiple variations: figures of women in yoga positions determined by their own gravitation, they “levitate” somewhat fleetingly, on three minimal points – the little toe and the middle fingers of both hands. The elaborated muscular surface tension, in the softness of the effects of light, is a given, just like the potential coloration and possible “enlivenment” by insertion of glass or steel eyes.6/

Retro inspirations are now again an ordinary part of the thematic and morphological “dictionary” of fine art. Historical, normative connotations however have ceased to be socially binding. The artist and his work are (only) exhibited in the practical criticism of contemporary production, which as was said, can appear in the institutionalised regime like almost anything. David Moješčík, who desires to stay above all a sculptor, also negotiates these impermanent multifarious strata. He has invented a means of creating his own universe – with diversity at the same time. The Nymphaeum – a full bevy of floating, naked girls as a natural species, with fauns inside the “disputation” – was originally the pictorial vision of the famous French 19th century academic painter William Adolphe Bouguereau (1825–1905). This vision – it seems – symbolically fulfils the quite contemporary Moješčík esprit of identificational needs, and in its élan vital it aims at joyful, although self-responsible, living.

Pavel Netopil

1/ For more, see Marie Rakušanová. Bytosti odnikud. Metamorfózy akademických principů v malbě první poloviny 20. století v Čechách [Beings from Nowhere. Metamorphoses of Academic Principles in Paintings of the First Half of the 20th Century in Bohemia]. Academia, Prague 2008.

2/ For more, see: Nikolaj Savický. Francouzské moderní umění a česká politika v letech 1900–1939 [French Modern Art and the Czech Political Scene, 1900–
1939]. Academia, Prague 2011.

3/ “The 1900 phenomenon resembles a huge delta. Through it flow all the tendencies of the 19th century, starting with sentimentalism and romanticism, continuing through symbolism, and ending in decadence, historicism, and ‘modernism’.” Josef Kroutvor. Hlava Medusy [The Head of Medusa]. Jazzpetit no. 29, Jazzová sekce PPSH, undated.

4/ Ing. Miloslav Moješčík (1947–2009) was a yoga instructor with international certification (Yoga in Daily Life).

5/ David Moješčík completed his apprenticeship in stone masonry in 1991 in Žulová; in 1992 he studied at the construction school in Ostrava in graphic design; a year later in 1993 he transferred to the fine arts school in Ostrava in industrial design; and in the same year he left for the stone sculpture school in Hořice v Podkrkonoši, whence he graduated in 1996. In that year he was accepted to the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Technical University in Brno, studying sculpture under Vladimír Preclík; after Preclík left the university he continued studying figural sculpture under Michal Gabriel, graduating in 2002.

6/ The key role of sight, from the anthropological, religious, and purely medical perspectives, is interestingly dealt with in: Frank Gonzalez-Crussi, On Seeing. Things Seen, Unseen and Obscene. Overlook Press, New York 2006.



Gallery Václav Špála, Prague


Pavel Netopil
Josef Vomáčka

Photos: Ivan Pinkava a Kristýna Štuková
Text in the catalog – see section Texts: Text for the exhibition at the Václav Špála Gallery

Excerpt from an interview about the Levitation statue in Ostrava

Excerpt from an interview about the Levitation statue in Ostrava with a member of the Ostrava 2015 team (Ostrava město kultury), which outlines the background of the creation and realization of the sculpture (from 2010):


Why a woman in a yoga position?

I wanted the space to feel calm. So that one can rest there and wait for his train to arrive. And not to put them in a dynamic attitude that surrounds them all day. I immediately had the idea to make a levitating woman. I was inspired by yoga, but it’s not exactly a yoga position, because I wanted to elevate it, not directly imitate and copy them. At the same time, she is a woman like a Christian symbol, a woman like Mary. Someone that meditates and is at peace.
Can you tell us a little more about Levitation before its reveal?

Her gaze is meditatively downward, and her eyes can theoretically reflect people, because those eyes are made of stainless steel. Beneath it is a symbolic puddle or water, which is represented by a stone pavement. I wanted the motif of water there because it is a motif of purification. We had to move the installation of the statue out of fear that it would be flooded.

How tall is the sculpture?

Two meters. If she stood up, she would be about four. And she’s black. Platinum bronze as a material is naturally black, and it occurred to me that the Ostrava black is also symbolic. I made a smaller version of the black levitating woman five years ago and loved it. Before, I made sculptures very colorful – in pink and flesh colors. Black also seems to me to be a form of purification. It’s not something bad, dark to me, but rather something deep like the night. And then she is also very, very realistic. It’s definitely not an erotic sculpture, it’s purely my personal approach to how I do these things. Just be prepared (laughs).

We are not afraid 🙂 After all, it is always said how straightforward Ostrava is…

That is also the reason why the statue is the way it is.


By the way, who was the prototype for Levitation?

I cannot answer that clearly. As I already mentioned, there are several variants of the “Levitation” statues. And it is typical for my work that I use more than one model for one sculpture (sometimes up to ten). I almost never have someone really close to the model. At the same time, I worked only from my head, from memory. The sculpture “Levitation” for Ostrava, which was cast in bronze, was created based on the experience of the earlier small sculpture last year during the spring and summer. I only modeled some details (face, hands, legs) according to the occasional “auxiliary” models – female friends – one lady is a painter and two are excellent sculptors.

How long did it take you to realize the sculpture itself?

More than a year. We started working on it in April, it was modeled in mid-summer, and then we created auxiliary models. It was cast in bronze during the winter and a fortnight ago the patina was finished. It took the first two months to figure out how to do it differently. I wanted it to symbolize that Ostrava is undressed, waiting. In Levitation, everyone will see what they want to see. Whoever wants to see erotica in it will see erotica. Whoever wants to see meditation will see meditation. And whoever recognizes an ironic allusion in it will not be wrong either, because they are there.

We started, we created. You speak in the plural…

Since it was a very demanding job, especially in terms of time, my longtime colleague and friend, the sculptor Michal Šmeral, helped me make the model. We have been working together for several years and help each other on similar projects. Casting such a big thing is a bit more demanding after all. Last year (note 2009) we successfully completed the project together – “Monument to Operation Anthropoid” – which is a monument to the assassination of R. Heydrich in Prague. We won the competition in 2008. We also managed to get the highest goal in the competition for the monument to Nikola Tesla in Prague, but in the end the councilors decided to cancel the whole project.


Text for the exhibition at the Václav Špála’s Gallery


 David Moješčík has created an extensive collection of sculptures. Today, he is part of a middle-aged generation of Czech sculptors and is famous for his creations in several public spaces in Ostrava that became a focus of anger from the public and controversy amongst experts… Moješčík is one of the few contemporary sculptors who does not have a connection to academia and is therefore not supported by academic institutions. In this difficult time, when art is usually supported by money from grants, it’s almost impossible to get assistance without the help of the institutions. Instead, Moješčík chose his own path and so, like a romantic adventurer, he still doing only that which he is best at: figure sculpting.

Moješčík´s sculptures have two main influences, separated by place and by time, they are: East Buddhist spiritualism and the romanticizing simulacrum of the former bourgeois fin de sieçle cultures. His work frequently mixes real life with fairytale worlds, as is often seen in contemporary literature and fantasy video games. In the 80s, art historian and essayist, Josef Kroutvor, compares similar events in a river delta [1] where various formal ideas, their shapes and powers, are mixed until they disappear, then they reappear back from depths and fall back to oblivion or appear in sub-rivers or a blind arm… etc. It’s generally true, that ideas can be buried in order to choose the correct one later. I remember when Moješčík studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts, at the Brno University of Technology, his unusual but sophisticated figures were particularly interesting; If I understood correctly, his work was not just about the realistic study of a model, but about capturing some ideal model: a “body created from bodies” with parts of models used to create one perfect model. At that time, Moješčík‘s sculptures had unusual poses, with their final appearance fitting perfectly into the scene as a whole, in the norms of classic sculpting and ideal composition of inner and outer (until recently only young women) “naked” beauty.

Moješčík´s nude figures are, from a modelling point of view, perfect. Perhaps because of that, they can appear a little unnatural to the viewer. However, they certainly are expressive, like they were sent to us from another world! The impression of internal intervention accompanies the sense of a non-violent, yet powerfully expansive moment, like after a deep exhaled breath, a sudden inhale must occur!

The best example of this is Moješčík´s Levitation sculpture, where a woman is in a meditating yoga pose, and is somehow, by the way, balancing only on three points: a little toe and one finger in each hand. As a result of the formal base and centre of gravity being lifted up, the model must be supported by a mesh composed of energetically living contour lines of the figure, as if it’s rotating through the sculpture from inside out and also around the centre. Very interesting and with a feeling of being in motion is, for now, the latest of Moješčík’s figures: a life-size man with his upper body overlapping his centre of gravity as he reaches expressively above a cross created by his legs, centralised on the sex organ. After so many years creating figures of women, this latest creation is a man: the non-dual God, Ishvara (2019-2020), portrayed in a difficult yoga pose [2]. Ishvara, in Hindu philosophy, is monastically presented as a self-centred, independent confession-less eternal God, Supreme Lord of the World… etc.

Pavel Netopil
Notifications – Literature:
1. Kroutvor, Josef. Hlava Medusy. Jazzpetit č. 29, s. 143-144.
2. Father, Ing. Miloslav Moješčík (1947-2009) was yoga instructor (Yoga in daily
life), with worldwide certificate