Terezie Zemánková: Anna Zemánková

The Czech creator Anna Zemankova (1908–1986) is exceptional within the framework of art brut: the formal qualities of her works have not remained the same throughout her creative period but have undergone dynamic development. In the 1960s, when she started to create, she strove to represent the beauty of real flowers. However, this was a relatively short period. She soon forgot her realistic inspiration and abandoned herself to her great imagination and strong inner urge.

The following period was characterized by powerful oval forms, born out of automatic gestures. The drawings were created in a semi-awakened state, as Anna regularly drew before sunrise. During the day she reworked the primary forms and filled in hundreds and even thousands of repeated details, some of them three-dimensional. She perforated some of her works (her drawings were thus enriched thanks to the light that penetrated through the minute holes), she pressed them in, embroidered them, used crochet works and textile appliqués, glued pearls, strass and glass beads on them, created paper and satin relief collages. Techniques and aesthetic elements connected with culture that had surrounded her in her youth emerged from her unconscious and gained completely new signification and potential. Zemankova thus entered the field of bricolage, one of the main characteristics of art brut.

Fleshy biomorphic volumes became more delicate in the 1970s. She added some subtle details and her drawings gained on an ethereal, dematerialized quality. The presented work has been created in this particular period. Even in this pastel and ballpoint pen drawing filled with delicate details we can feel the oscillation between vegetable and animal kingdom that is characteristic of her entire production. The articulation of the stem and its hairiness evokes the world of insects. Its oppressive corporeality anchored in the earth contrasts with the gracefulflowers, which shoot up from it and remind us of glowing signal rockets aiming somewhere up into the cosmos.

The personification of flowers appears in Zemankova’s work almost regularly. The floral form is, however, only a mask behind which she hides sublimated emotions. Her flowers, even if they seem almost too beautiful and decorative, provoke anxiety because of their intensive vibration. The contemporary Czech creator of art brut Zdenek Kosek said about his work that it contains the erotic force of the entire universe. Anna was a passionate, curious and desiring woman. Her creation is an eruption of vital energy, her flowers are the transcription of her feelings. The energy which she had put in her maternity and the loving education of her children was projected in her creation. She began drawing at the age of fifty years, after her children grew up and the important role she played in her household had become weaker. Her creation functioned as an outlet for her repressed emotions, desires and dreams.

Anna Zemankova has become the most known Czech creator of art brut. Her work can be found in the Collection de l’Art brut in Lausanne, abcd collection in Paris, Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Trust and in many other public and private collections.

Terezie Zemánková, Classic works – Anna Zemankova. In: Raw Vision: no. 55, 2005