Emma Srncova

Emma Srncova

Painting, printing

Biography
 

22nd of August 1942 in Prague

EmmaI was born a not-so-ferocious Leo on August 22, 1942 in Prague in sanatorium of Dr. Jerie, where my mom had dropped in from Plzeò, which was our home at that time. My family name is Macenauer. Its origin? Bourgeoisie, as all records attest to.
My great grandfatherMy great grandfather Friedrich Ludvík Macenauerwas the general manager of the estates of Karl Friedrich Stadion-Thannhausen. This bachelor count took such a liking to great granddad´s family, and especially his two sons Bedøich and Emerich (my grandfather), that after the early death of their parent he took care of them as if they were his own. He provided them with a perfect education, sent them to schools and he left all his allodium property (property which the owner could administer as he saw fit, as apposed to property which could be passed on only to family members) to them after his death. It´s no wonder that many believed the boys actually were the sons of Count Stadion. There were disputes about it in the family as well. One faction was for" Stadion while the second emphasized more honorable kinship with a rather poor family of Swiss aristocrats, the Macenowers.
Chateau ulice near PilsenThe Macenowers lived at the Úlice Chateau near Plzeò. At Úlice was a smart English park, which was one of the only parts of the estate. I late got the chance to enjoy a little in the 1950s. chateau, which was being snake over the fence surrounding the managed" by the local agricultural collective. There had been a tennis court in the park, and my father´s older brother Pavel was excellent player who, together with Jan Ko¾eluh, represented the republic in the Davis Cup and other tournaments around the world.
GrandmotherI received my Christian name from my grandmother Emma Macenauerová. She was a Viennese Czech, though she never did learn Czech very well. Apparently we share this gift for learning languages. Unfortunately I never got to meet her, but she must heve been a wonderful person. Decades later old men still recalled her beauty and charm: Mrs. Macenauerová ... that one could sure walz!"
ParentsGrandma Emma had six children with grandfather: four sons and two daughters. My father was the youngest, and so the only" thing left for him was a wholesale coal in Plzeò. He took an interest in sport from an early age, but because he was stricken with polio when he was seventeen, he couldn´t actively dedicate himself to them like the rest of the Macenauers. My mother Eli¹ka Macenauerová, née Egertová, was from Kukleny u Chotìboøe, and I don´t actually know much about her family. Mom pulled the whole family along during a time which must have been awful for her. When we moved to Prague, father ended up doing what he liked best- music. But mom, in her fifties, had to start going to work for the first time in her life - in an accounting department no less (a frightening thought to me). I don´t think she was prepared at all for that kind of life.
FamillyMy brother Bedøich, forteen years older than I and the only male offspring in the entire Macenauer family, was always something special for me. He is a musician with perfect pitch, and so began living in the world of music from a young age. The libertation of Plzeò by the American Army made a strong impression for him. When I was three he taught me to sing the American anthem and to salute. Later he was expellied from school for bringing flowers to the local memorial to the American soldiers. They sent him for reducation to stand by a lathe in a factory.
School in the conventI began going to school, which was located in a convent. But 1948 came along and the convent was closed down. I´am left-handed, and because writing left-handed wasn´t allowed at the time, they converted me. I now write with my right hand, though nobody can read my writing. I do everything else, including painting, with my left hand, which means that when I sign my paintings, I end up first signing my name in pencil with my right hand and then going over it left-handed with the brush, from right to left.
ConfirmationWhen I was around ten years old, my father and Bedøich were involved in Sunday children´s plays in the Little Theater in Plzeò. Bedøich conducted and father played in the orchestra. I was taking ballet lessons at the time and could sing quite well. I also danced in a children ensamble as one of the souldiers in the Nutcracker Suite and with my schoolmates in the opera The Jocobín. Once they needed someone to accompany the singing of a sad Cinderella with rhytmic pigeon cooing, like a dialogue. They chose me. Everything went well until the performance rolled arround and my proud father invited all hisd friends to listen to my beautiful cooing. Somehow I got into a stuffle over something important" with the other kids offstage that day and missed my cue to coo. I did manage to hurl myself at the microphone and warble a few misplaced notes, but it was too late. I shut myself up in the dressing room for a long while afterward, until my ifurianted brother and father left for Sunday lunch, at which point I dragged myself out. Poor mom. She never liked theatre, but eventually we all ended up there.
Family printIt´s the end of eighth grade in Stra¹nice, and I don´t get any letters of recommendation for high school.I couldn´t have cared less. Mom does what she can and manages to get me into a prep school in Karlovy Vary. In school, in what became standard for me, the professors were divided into those who clearly liked me and those I irritated. I think I was our homeroom teacher´s class pet (we called him Mukyna). He sat me into the first row directly in front of his desk and continually joked arround with me. When Mr. ©imonovský entered the classroom for the next lesson, the whole class had to stand at attention,and after he sat down behind the desk he would slide a plant over so ho wouldn´t even have to look at me. His standard, Macenauerová, Macenauerová, you´ll end up on the scrap heap of history," is impossible to forget.
modelOne fateful moment in my life came during gym class in the tenth grade.Two women from the Fashion and Home Furnishings Institute are going around looking for new models, and there we are prancing about in blue gym shorts like a herd of little ponies. A fellow student and I are chosen to go on to the next round of their contents, and, to my surprise, I win and begin attending modeling classes led by the deaf-mute Vìru¹ka Waldhansová, a woman of eminent grace and sophistication. She teaches us how to walk with books on our head like high-wire artists, and how to elegantly slide out of furs and gloves, make ourself up and set and serve tables. The biggest problem for me was high heels, because a was used to walkig around in sneakers and pants. This kind of course should be mandatory for all girls around that age.
The shit: The TailorAt the end of 1960 I´m eighteen years old and leaving to do a fashion show at the International Exhibition of Czechoslovakia in Kiev in the Ukraine. Our fashion show is on the same stage as Jiøí Srnec´s Black Theater. The Black Theatre happened to be going through one of its reincarnations at the time, and Jiøí Srnec was getting ready to hold auditions for new members. When we returned to Prague, I went to the auditions. Originally it seemed funny to me that I was supposed to pretend to be a tree and grow, or a sad chair, but later it became an everyday thing. I was given roles as scullery girls and mannequins come to life.
Black TheatreOur first trip is to East Germany, where we sleep in cheap hotels and sometimes in cellars under damp eiderdown. First stopping at the Dresden gallery before going on to others. This was probably the moment I started moving in artistic circles, though not with any particular enthusiasm at first. Tours of military bases in Czechoslovakia follow, and my scullery girl scenes in which I washed two pairs of men´s underwear and one pair of women´s meet with considerable success. Those scenes have since become clasics and are handed down to all generations of Srncová women (from daughters to wives).
Life Without A GuitarI turn nineteen and I´m receiving offers to do films; I even decide to play in one of them. It was called Life Without A Guitar," and I play a hooligan of sorts with a guitar who steals a nice girl´s boyfriend. After that I auditioned for the role of a carnie girl in the film When the Cat Comes, directed by Vojtìch Jasný and starring Vlastimil Brodský. I don´t actually know why I didn´t get the part - it must have been fate. I also don´t think I´ve ever been a very good actor, not even in private life. I was never able to cut loose," not even while acting. Perhaps the disco was the only place I really could. I remember moments during performances when I found myself wondering what I was actually doing on stage.
Jan WerichIn New York I met several personalities from the Czech exile community. The thing I remember most was meeting Jiøí Voskovec.We had been invited to another party. The man who opened the door was bald at the top, with completely gray hair that didn´t start until just above his ears, though it continued down to his shoulders. He greeted us in perfect Czech. We sat down at his table and listened as he talked and gestured expressively. As he went on, Jiøí and I looked to each other: Is this Mr. Voskovec? It was. We asked him all sorts of things, and he always answered, Jan and I did it like this," or Jan and I looked at it this way." That was when we undestood that even though his life in American had been on the whole succesful, his real life was the one he spent with Jan Werich. I met Werich much later at a birthday party for the sculptor Vladimír Preclík,who remembered my mother, of whom he had been very fond in his youth.
Clan: Barborka, Honza, Lucie and meThe kids still remember the period in which we both traveled with the theater as a time when, more like friends than parents and a little bit like Santa Claus, we would come back from tours with suitcases laden with gifts, spend a few glorious days with them, and leave again. I was glad, then, when I could stay at home with them more often, and Jiøí started going on tours by himself for the most part. What followed was what had to follow: With this kind of lifestyle, either peopleare together twenty-four hours a day, or they see each other every three weeks, if not every three months. A new female cast had been brought into the troupe for Week of Dreams," among them a new Liza Doolitle." Just like myself years earlier, she was captivated by her boss, who also happened to be, unfortunately, my husband. All the makings of a clasic ... and three month later found myself a divorced woman with three kids. And it was than that my painting helped me. I sat there and painted and painted.
Pavel with OtikWe were married on April 26, 1986. Pavel Beránek should have been given a more suitable name. Most of his friends call him Beran, and that doesn´t bother him. He doesn´t like when he is ocasionally called Mr. Srnec, though (Beránek-lamb, Beran - ram, Srnec - roebuck). For my fifttieth birthday my kids got me a wiry-haired, miniature dachshund who I named Otík. My husband´s initial reaction was, It´s either me or the dog," but he would probably rather see me leave sooner than the dog now. Even though Pavel and I have a combined total of five children and eight grandchildren together we´ve got only the dog.
Potrait of EmmaI was fifty-five years old shortly. I remember being twenty and thinking that at thirty I´d be an old woman, and that fifty was like having one foot in the grave. Now that I´ve passed the magic fifty mark that everyone seems to wrestle with, I don´t actually feel as if there´s been any big change, aside from the fact that the person looking out of the miror at me is an older woman. But when I´m somewhere I think I want to be more than anywhere else in the world at a given moment-whether it´s in the forest or at the sea - I feel like a young girl again. I sit, I look around, I am at equilibrium. It´s been, and perhaps still will be, a life, for which I´am grateful, and hope that fate will continue to be kind to me and that after every slap will come tenderness ... like so far.