Profiles

Věra Boudníková-Špánová is an artist whose work has not been appraised appropriately by art critics and the public. She died in 2012 and the work she left behind belongs to the field of textile arts, however, it surpasses what is traditionally understood under the term of textile arts. Věra studied at the School of Textile Crafts in Brno, then she worked for a short time for Filmtisk – Arts and Crafts, in Bořivojova street in Prague. In 1967 she started studying at the Pedagogical Faculty in České Budějovice. In 1968 she took part in organizing an art symposium called Prooemium in Český Krumlov, where she met Vladimír Boudník and married him shortly after. Unfortunately, their relationship did not last long, since Vladimír Boudník committed suicide. Věra did not finish her studies and in 1973 set up her first studio in Český Krumlov. In the early 1980s she moved to Prague.
Věra refused to respect the primarily decorative function of textile and she never expected her art work to become a source of living. After 1989 she had different jobs, she worked as a shop assistant in a bookshop, a cleaner and later as a librarian in the Gallery of Prague. From the very beginning she considered textile as a medium of authentic artistic expression. Věra´s first works reflected the influence of the reformers of tapestry who rejected the traditional rectangular form of tapestries and refused to depend on traditional images and subjects. In several of her large-scale tapestries from the late 1960s and second half of the 1970s as well as her small-scale tapestries she applied principles stemming from dynamical structuring and rejection of traditional work with the warp and the weft. She also used non-traditional materials which often conveyed new meanings. In the course of the 1980s she continued experimenting with space illusion and graduated stylization of the tapestry, gradually transforming into a three-dimensional textile object. She often also endowed her work with humour and grotesque features. In the late 1980s Věra arrived at a conceptual approach and in the course of the first post-revolution decade this approach became more radical. In her experiments with space installations of tapestries she negated the traditional decorative function of tapestries and she turned them into disturbing objects calling for new meaning and in some cases referring to the theme of transcendency.
At that time she often mocked gender stereotypes so often associated with textile arts. She used them to gently provoke and rebel against the restrictive definition of the role of women in a patriarchal society. She gradually deformed classical textile presentation – tapestry, appliqués and sewing. Paradoxically, she began to undermine the rules of textile arts the moment she achieved technical virtuosity and perfectly understood the character of different materials. Věra emancipated her works and relieved them from the decorative function which, at the beginning of her artistic career, used to be imposed on textile arts. Her composed, intimate art confessions were also freed of gallery spaces. Contemplativeness, subtlety and spiritualized content penetered into Věra´s late works in the process of creation, in a limited space and within the framework of an imposed but worthy minimalism.

Marie Rakušanová

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