The first solo retrospective of Jindřich Heisler provides a long overdue look at a unique man who created unique art under unique circumstances
Jindřich Heisler: Surrealism under Pressure at Chicago’s Art Institute presents 70 works by the still little-known Czech Surrealist whose work straddles the line between a variety of artistic media. The exhibition also underlines the significant role Prague played as an important outpost of Surrealism, second only to Paris.
Heisler started out as a poet and the show includes what Heisler called materialized poems (realisované
básně) in the photo-poetry collection Z kasemat spánku (From the Strongholds of Sleep) which puts words and images in a fascinating relation and which arose out of Heisler’s having gone into hiding in 1941 to avoid being sent to a concentration camp.
All stairways are shut. All mouths are
muffled from within.
No grain pecking anymore. The hens have been
choked to death and the fire extinguished.
A half chicken and a wet piece of bread
send their last pellets upward, where a
transparent umbrella of liver skin is
Photo – Untitled by Jindřich Heisler, 1944, courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago