Josef Šíma (1891–1971)

Mental Landscape

Technique :oil on canvas


Dimensions:53.5 x 72.5 cm


starting price:‍120000 EUR

achieved price:‍208000 EUR

87th Auction, lot 157


This extraordinarily spiritual and delicate painting of an immensely calming colour palette comes from the artist’s important post-war period, which has only recently been rightfully appreciated by collectors. After a few-year hiatus in the early 1950s, Šíma commenced his second creative period, during which he executed masterpieces characterised by his independence from contemporary tendencies, extraordinary depth of expression, and refined technique, which could be compared to the works of great personalities such as Mark Rothko. In the impressive radiant scenes of originally landscape character which Šíma transformed into an almost abstract depiction, the artist focused on expressing the changes in light and the structure of nature. For this purpose, a fine drawing and a very light, often monochrome colour layer served him well. Thanks to the colours’ ephemeral shades he was able to portray the metaphysical processes. The presented painting reflects the artist’s interest in these aspects, including recent studies of matter, which, in his painting as in contemporary research, has lost its consistency and become a mere ubiquitous energy. The beholder thus encounters an unusually subtle painting, where with the help of several colour shades they can observe two flat ice floes harmoniously levitating in surreal azure space. This surreal space illustrates Šíma’s extraordinary effort to express the whole world in its cosmic unity and approach to the myth of its creation as well as his approach to reality, deprived of all descriptiveness and reduced to a few basic features. The value of this work is increased by the artist’s inscription on the reverse and provenance directly from his studio in 1964. Assessed during consultations by prof. J. Zemina and PhDr. K Srp. The expertise by PhDr. R. Michalová, Ph.D., is attached.