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Jaromír Rybák and His Fantasy World

Jaromír Rybák had the opportunity to develop his artistic creativity first in Prague at the High School of Applied Arts for Glassmaking in Železný Brod and then in prof. Stanislav Libenský's glass studio at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. When looking at his work from this period of maturation, it's surprising to see the firm roots of the artist's later artistic style. Rybák was fascinated by the world of unusual creatures and plants, which his fantasy took to another level. In Professor Libenský's glass studio he had to opportunity to experiment with technologies and blend various formulations. An example of this are his orchid jardinieres from the late 1970s, which are ahead of their time. At a time when the esthetics of elementary shapes and optical effects were preferred, they daringly combine restrained cuts with raw unesthestic shapes.

Alongside his monumental art, in the early 1980s Jaromír Rybák developed an innovative technique of fusing cut segments. He collaborated with Gizela Šabóková and, later, with Jan Štohanzl. He added filigree etchings, grids out of gold leaf, painted compositions of fantastic creatures and other things onto the connecting surfaces of the fused parts. The result were extremely intimate pieces with a fragile beauty within a massive block. His 1986 masterpiece - the portrait of Vladimír Kopecký - is proof that it is possible to achieve an expressive inner monumentality through the application of this technique.

It was during this period that Rybák began to create stained glass. In his painted works we can see a style influenced by new figures. Loosely formed fused reliefs as well as precisely cut works of flat glass are set into other works. The artist ignored accepted dogma with great conviction. His style went against the traditional stained glass principles and its function as the boundary between outer and inner space. He created a form of spatial and two-dimensional painting.

Jaromír Rybák's artistic contribution to the world of modern glass sculpture is the combination of glass and metal, which is an expressively wholly different material. He has mostly worked with bronze since the 1990s. Both materials are impressive participants in the dialog inherent in his works' expression. Bronze shapes express a monumental dramatic character. Glass is the bearer of a timeless element; the experience of meeting with something rare and impossible to understand. In his sculptures of insects (for example Atlas with Ivy, 1998, Sapphire Atlas, 1999-2000) and other pieces (for example Water Stones, 2000, Hunger Stones, 2001), the decorative character of the glass is a counterweight to the rawness of the metal. Rybákov's last works of this type are grandiose in size. The circular sculpture Table of Town Horizons (2010) features a massive leg with a complex architectural structure composition evoking a fantastical Metropolis. A strong plate of fused glass with a relief structure is placed on top. A similarly expressive sculpture is the emotional Table of Fish Dreams (2012), which has a plate with motifs of schools of fish with the inner glow of a blue-green world. The structure supporting this "surface" looks like it came from the bowels of the legendary Titanic. The shapes are overgrown with organisms, just like the surface of the sea slowly reshapes everything originally human in its own image.

The artist's architectural projects are also significant. Compared to his other works there aren't many, but they are all impressive pieces. When the Schlossberg castle, in midle of Graz, near Sars Brucken was being transformed into a casino, he collaborated with Gizela Šabóková on a unique chandelier made out of glass rods for its main hall. It is one of the largest in Europe (29 m long, 6 m wide).

In 2000, the artist was offered the unique opportunity to create a glass nativity scene for the former castle chapel in Bezdružice. Jaromír Rybák's approach to the traditional motif was extremely unusual. The result is a bronze, steel, and glass monument weighing several tuns. The middle scene of the savior's birth as an expression of a desire for love and hope is framed by motifs of old testament stories and element from mythology, cosmology, and mysticism connected with the infiniteness of outer space. The work thus depicts motifs of thousand-year-old archetypal human humbleness, an inkling of something powerful guiding our lives as a timeless order. Rybák's crystal nativity scene is currently located in the castle in Pardubice. It is part of the castle's vast museum collection of Czech studio glass.

Alongside his glass sculptures, Jaromír Rybák also paints and draws. All of his works have the same common denominator - unlimited imagination and the endless landscapes of fantasy.

Ivo Kren
September 2017

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