MAGDA | Olga Malá


Martin Kuriš appeared on the creative art scene at the end of the nineteen nineties, particularly as a painter of large, boldly coloured figural oils, which attracted a lot of interest with their expansive painterly vitality. It seemed that those unmistakable figural pictures, blending the idyll of Sunday naive painters with the author’s thoroughly contemporary sense of irony and absurdity, were created easily and as a matter of course, simply flowing out from the author’s imaginative mind.
Nowadays Martin Kuriš presents not only pictures, but also a book; entitled simply Magda, it is intended for readers of all ages and tells the melancholic story of a twelve-year-old girl and her friends from the animal and fairy-tale kingdom.
Kuriš’s creative journey from so-called free easel painting to a book with “pictures” has its own developmental logic. He had been inspired by poetry and diary entries before, but his growing interest in the word gradually led him through a series of paintings to which he appended short texts and poems (Frankenstein, 2000, Petr a Lucie (Peter and Lucy), 2001) to his first book, Don Giovanni (2003).
The starting point for Martin Kuriš’s work is the visual image. The artist sees his stories first of all, and only then interprets them in words, which is why Magda, his second book so far, originated with the series of paintings of the same name and the publication came out the opposite way round to the usual process for children’s books, where an existing text is subsequently accompanied by illustrations. However, he entrusted the text of Magda – unlike that of his previous book Don Giovanni, which he wrote himself – to the children’s author Jitka Komendová.
It is worth mentioning that he chose her on the basis of a small internet audition, as her text mostly closely matched the meaning and atmosphere of his series of paintings.
The features that characterise Kuriš’s books and his freestyle art are naivety and his inspiration by the beautiful countryside and people from around the author’s secluded residence in Příbram, in the region of Děčín. His decision to settle with his family in this somewhat godforsaken spot below Buková hora mountain stems from his voluntary adoption of a rather ascetic way of life. With a touch of exaggeration it may be said that the author, who teaches in nearby Verneřice and still lectures at the Teaching Faculty in Ústí nad Labem, has chosen life “far from the madding crowd”. This choice accentuates his own artistic mythology and expresses the integrity of his approach to life and his art. The author’s strong affinity for this place is reflected in his pictures, which often portray people around him: relatives, friends and neighbours; not far from the Kuriš’s house lives the actual girl who provided the inspiration for Magda, the heroine of this book.
Magda is a fairy tale told in words and pictures, depicting a world of fantasy, dreams and poetry; it is the story of a journey in search of fortune, good and evil, the yearning for love. Its protagonists: a young girl, kind elves and fairies along with other defenceless creatures, a sheep and a pony, become touching symbols of vulnerable humanity.

Olga Malá, July 2004