TOMAS RAJLICH (1940) enjoyed an arts education in Prague, at the School of Decorative Arts and the Academy of Fine Arts. He trained as a sculptor and soon opted for working in the geometric vein. In 1966 he co-founded the Klub Konkretistù – the Czech equivalent of Nul or Zéro –, which acquired him national fame. A couple of years later the international art world discovered his work at the Musée Rodin in the group show Sculpture Tchécoslovaque.
In 1969 Rajlich decided to flee his homeland due to the Soviet Occupation and settled in the Netherlands. He was named professor at the Vrije Academie and found his vocation to become a painter. Represented by the galleries Art & Project, Amsterdam, and Yvon Lambert, Paris, before long his work was appreciated on an international scale and Rajlich was invited to participate in ground-breaking exhibitions like Elementaire Vormen (1975), Fracture du Monochrome aujourd’hui en Europe (1978), Bilder ohne Bilder (1978) and, most importantly, Fundamental Painting (1975) at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
As this exhibition pointed out, Rajlich’s canvases show an ongoing concern with the “fundamental” in painting, not unlike contemporary work by the American Minimal painters. His early works are characterized by an industrial outlook and a modular quality - their trademark is the grid -, while Rajlich’s mature works show a more complex treatment of the key idea that painting is a self-reflective entity. His recent monochromes explore the combination of the impersonal, the gestural and the creative force of light; they are variations on the intensity, luminosity and facture of the paint, all while clearly remaining a factual painting. The artist’s sensibility emanates from the subtle modulation of the paint on the canvas, yet the emphasis is on color and the creative force of light that eternally changes the painted surface. It imbues these canvases with a life of their own, which never ceases to tickle the sensibility of the viewer. They are paintings continuously reviewing painting.
Rajlich’s first retrospective show was presented by the Palazzo Martinengo, Brescia, in 1993. His adoptive nation, the Netherlands, awarded Rajlich the prestigious Ouborg Award for his lifetime endeavors in 1994, at which occasion the Haags Gemeentemuseum hosted a second retrospective exhibition; and a decade later in 2005, in honor of his 65th birthday, the museum showed a retrospective of the artist’s works on paper. In his native Czech Republic, the Dùm umìní mìsta Brna featured a retrospective in 1998.
Rajlich works are part of numerous respected public collections worldwide and he regularly receives commissions to execute monumental paintings; for example, Rajlich has created six large-scale canvases for the conference room of the Raad van State in The Hague and, recently, a six meters high canvas and an engraved glass wall for the Embassy of the Netherlands in Ghana. From 1999 to 2002 Rajlich was an artist in residence at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. He lives and works in Prague, Czech Republic, and near Verona, Italy.