Jaromir Rybak


Jaromír Rybák is a pupil of Stanislav Libenský, who headed the glass department at the Prague School of Applied Art for many years. Born in Plzeň in 1952, but now based in Prague, the artist embarked at the age of fifteen on a thorough, four-year training course at the glass technical college in Železný Brod. He originally intended to work in the glass industry, but exceptionally gifted people received extra support from what was then the state of Czechoslovakia and he was permitted to move to the School of Applied Art in Prague after completing his course. He studied glass design there from 1973 to 1979.

Libenský encouraged his students to use the mould-melting process and such cold-working techniques as cutting, sandblasting and engraving to enhance the inherent luminosity of the material. Rybák's early work clearly reveals the influence of his teacher, but soon his personal, impulsive artistic temperament asserted itself - what Sylvà Petrová calls his 'creative lack of discipline' in the Essen catalogue of 1988. Rybák switches back and forth between the beautiful and the ugly, between the light and the dark, between harmonious, restful forms and ones full of animated aggression, between heavenly beings and beasts reminiscent of gargoyles grimacing sinisterly on Gothic cathedrals. The monsters, including some that look like wolves in sheep's clothing, seem to have been getting out of control in recent years. Fish-type beasts have been opening their jaws wider than before and sharpening their teeth, birdlike creatures have been snapping ever larger beaks shut and strange plant mutations have been acquiring fleshier leaves. The bronze bases of the objects have grown correspondingly more angular and are expanding more uninhibitedly. At once attracted and repelled, the viewer is disturbed by the combination of technical mastery and forms that consistently oppose the dictates of 'good taste'. Is this how Rybák sees the world? Is he seeking to pillory the falsity of 'perfect' appearances by unmasking the cruel, unpalatable truth behind them?

Among Jaromír Rybák's accolades are Third Prize at the 1985 Zweiter Coburger Glaspreis in Coburg, Germany and the Masaryk Art Academy Prize he received in 1996. His commissioned works and architectural installations can be seen throughout Europe and the Middle East, and his sculpture is featured in the public collections of numerous museums including Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, Grand Crystal Museum in Taipei, Taiwan, Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, France, Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal in Montreal, Canada and Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague, Czech Republic.