Bohumil Elias Sr.

Bohumil Elias Sr. (1937-2005) was a leading figure of the 20th-century Czech studio glass establishment. His versatile and original work was also renowned internationally as a unique artist and respected in the world of art and sculpture. Elias exhibited his works in some of the most important museums and galleries in the world.

Elias’s studied at the Secondary Applied Arts School of Glassmaking in Železný Brod a town in the Czech Republic. Elias studied there from 1957 until 1963 under the guidance of Professor Josef Kaplický where he worked on monumental painting and glass pieces at the Prague Academy of Art and design. Elias had time to develop his paint perception and personal style of working with colour which had been dynamic. At the same time however his orientation towards glass became more pronounced and the mutual connection between these two artistic fields would subsequently form the definitive basis of Elias’s artistic expression.

In 1975 he was commissioned to produce very special windows for the Gothic Church of the Virgin Mary in Dobříš,near Prague. Elias was the first to use the principle of horizontal layering of forms cut out of a single sheet of glass. He applied this visually effective means of working with glass in a series of monumental projects for architectural pieces. At this time he also layered glass plates which became his trademark and the expression of free glass sculptures. These sculptures were initially based on the interplay of plastic forms modelled by the fragmented refraction of light at the edges.

From the early 1990s he began using paint on the individual layers of glass in order to create the illusion of deep inner spaces in the block of material. He reduced his shapes to simple cylinders and prisms, modifying and cutting. Using this technique he created objects reminiscent of steel sculptures.

Painting on the formed pieces which unified the basis of Elias’s artistic personality, which was parallel to his glass sculpture. Both artistic paths merged into a new form when Elias had the opportunity to apply his dramatic painting on blown hollow glass forms.

The glass shapes became the bearer of painted compositions that drew on the entire diversity of Elias’s original expression. Glass enabled paint to span space, imbuing it with a magical play of light in the form of translucent paint layers and allowing it to develop three-dimensionally into imaginative spaces beyond the reality of the object itself.

Elias’s rewarding artistic career which lasted over forty years came to an abrupt and sudden end upon his death, just at the moment when his renowned intense enthusiasm was creating new forms of work.

His sculptures and paintings remain in dozens of collections, both public and private all over the world. Elias was an exceptionally inventive and independent artist of international significance and importance.


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