Miroslav Koval


July 1, 2022

Miroslav Koval (November 26, 1944 Havlíčkův Brod – June 15, 2022) was a Czech photographer, painter, draughtsman and curator.


Miroslav Koval was born in Havlíčková Brod as the second son of the Katzer couple. After the war, the parents moved to Litoměřice and changed their surname to Koval. The father was a lawyer, from 1947 a judge of the regional court in Ústí nad Labem, after February 1948 a miner. Both parents were Catholics and collaborated with Bishop Trochta in the spiritual renewal event. The communists arrested the mother and in 1952 sentenced her to 14 years in prison for treason in a staged trial with "Vatican spies", the father was co-accused and sentenced to 7 years. Miroslav Koval and his older brother grew up in a children's home until 1960, when their mother was released on amnesty and the family reunited in Litoměřice. Although Miroslav Koval passed the exams for an art school, as the son of "class enemies" he was not allowed to enter it and he trained as a chemist and passed his matriculation at evening school in a rubber factory in Kralupy. In the years 1965-1971 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague in the studio of František Jiroudka. Spiritually, he was more attracted to Jiří John's evening drawing school. His classmates and friends included Michal Ranný, Svatopluk Slovenčík, Vladimír Gebauer, Vladimír Říha, Petr Šmaha, Marie Blabolilová. From 1974 he lived permanently in Sobotín, where he collaborated on the sculptures of his father-in-law Jiří Jílek for about ten years. He then continuously documented them photographically. During normalization, he had solo exhibitions only in 1982, in three small Moravian galleries. In the early 1990s, he was a member of the art association Kruh in Kostelec nad Černými lesy, and from 1991 of the Association of Olomouc Artists (later a guest of both). Since November 1994, he has been the dramaturg of exhibitions at the Jiří Jílek Gallery in Šumperk, the author of texts for exhibitions and the form of prints for them, installations and introductory words. His wife, the painter Anežka Kovalová, is the co-author of the installations and their photodocumentary. He died on June 15, 2022 at the age of 77.


During his studies, Miroslav Koval gradually muted the color. He switched from oil painting to egg tempera in the middle of it, and the last painting period at AVU was mainly white. Part of the thesis was an almost monochrome painting of the studio, today owned by the Gallery of Fine Arts in Litoměřice. After leaving school around 1973, he began documenting the details of nature with the help of photography, and his drawings depicting natural structures and their rhythmic breakdown were originally intended as preparation for paintings. However, the drawings gradually became independent and eventually became the final work. In the end, Koval completely abandoned the painting. His last paintings from around 1984 are relief and almost monochrome structures painted with casein tempera, white, black and finely rubbed and applied earthy sands (Moře, 1984). From the first drawings, one can still read the visual qualities of the initial phenomenon depicted (file Earth , 1978–1979). The painter gradually looked for general characteristic rhythmic elements in the landscape or details of grass and grain. His drawing record gradually became more robust in an effort to avoid any lyricism (1983). In the following period, the direct correlation with certain elements of nature loses its meaning, and Koval's drawing moves towards generalization, multi-meaning and mutual interchangeability of objects. The synthesis of this experience is a set of large-format drawings from 1986-1987. After 1989, the drawing becomes dynamic and includes circular motifs of swirling, tangling or wrapping. After 1991, the geometric delimitation of the space in which the structures develop becomes part of the drawing. The drawings are gradually radically reduced to simple curves, and at the same time there is a need to emphasize direct connection