THE ARTIST OF MANY TALENTS
I have to admit I am hopelessly masculine type: not that I am some sort of macho-man, but when it comes to things feminine I am not feeling so confident. We men simple have different opinions, different tastes. I am not complaining, on the contrary, I believe that it is all in order. Even our Creator realized it when he noticed how many drawbacks Adam really had and the only way he could repair His reputation was to create Eve. Then, in order to make it acceptable to us, vain men, he invented the story about Adam's rib and what not. It took men several millennia to figure out how it really was. Many of us still don't know it and those who know have, in spite of it - or rather because of it - a certain fear of women, namely of women of many talents, like for instance the artist Blanka Matragi-Kyselová.
When I sat down at my keyboard to write this essay, I felt ill at ease: what should I write about first? About her design talents, about her models, her studies of art and glass-art in Bohemia? Or maybe about the fact she is the academic painter (i.e. a special academic title)? And why, with all my modesty, particularly me ? Then I remembered I was writing an essay, the form of writing where all things are permitted (at least in my essays), even some permissiveness itself. Take for instance my knowledge of ladies fashions: true, I attended several fashion shows - only in the audience, mind you - but every time I did, I caught myself watching the girls rather than the dresses they were wearing.
Of course it didn't improve with age, my age that is. It is a certain comfort that I am not alone in this. Once on the show by Sheridan College in Oakville their student models presented the new line of dresses with see-through tops. When they unexpectedly appeared on the stage, the professors of musical faculty who played in Dixieland band, lost not only the rhythm but the melody as well. Especially their saxophone player who still managed in the sudden silence something which reminded me the last song of a solitary swan.
Luckily for me I have my wife At'a who understands those things, partly because she is a woman, partly because she graduated - from the same college - in Fashion Arts. We both have a different taste, almost diametrically opposite. Sometimes I even joke that her taste is worse than mine, considering that I chose her while she only settled for me. In other words, I don't usually like what she likes and vice versa (maybe except for my person, I also like myself very much).
As far as the fashion is concerned, At'a is the only arbiter elegantiarum in our family. So when I looked at the art of Blanka Matragi, I liked it immediately, but I couldn't take my word for it. So I carefully and with feigned indifference showed At'a the photographs of the models from Blanka Haute Couture. To my amazement At'a was more than enthusiastic. You can imagine my surprise: during our long marriage, we agreed only three times about anything and if we ever agree, it surely must be beautiful, believe me. True, I could have talked here about how she liked the design and individual robes - especially those with laces - and many other things I am no authority at, but I think that I have provided the real proof here already.
As I mentioned, Blanka Matragi is a woman of many talents: next to charming designs and photographs of her models, the exhibition also shows her Blanka Crystal Line, the collection of blown and hand-made glass for the glass-works in Kamenicky Senov. The collection is attractive not only because of the choice of colors, but also thanks to beautiful forms, from simpler shapes to really sophisticated goblets, carafes and decanters. The artist is just returning back to something she never ceased to love: the creations made of glass. And I should add from "Czech glass", but there is no need, because the collection of Blanka Matragi-Kyselová already joined the world-known tradition of Czech glass-makers.
© Jan B. Hurych
© 2000 Blanka Matragi, ArtForum / ICZ a.s.