Pavel Brázda was born on 21 August 1926 in Brno. As a 16-year-old, he established his own artistic style: hominism, “earthly surrealism for common people”, which anticipated his general approach to art. After the war, he studied at the Academy of fine arts, where he met his future wife, painter Věra Nováková.  Neither of them finished their studies; after the coup in February 1948, they were both expelled from the school for political reasons. For the next forty years, the couple worked independently of major artistic currents, without being able to exhibit their work. This helped Pavel Brázda to develop a unique style, which reflects the precision of classical masters while also drawing on postmodern condensation, irony and humour.

It is only after 1989 that Pavel Brázda comes to the awareness of Czech public thanks to a series of exhibitions. In 2007, he has a solo exhibition in National Gallery in Prague. In 2008 Pavel Brázda is awarded State decoration from President Václav Klaus but returns it to Klaus in 2013. Aged 81, the artist discovered the possibilities of working with a computer, and since then he created his digital paintings, allegorical xerographies and collages inspired by comics and pop-art aesthetic. Over the last years of his life, his work was exhibited in a number of galleries, including City Gallery in Wroclaw, Egon Schiele Art Centrum in Český Krumlov or Library of Birmingham Gallery. Pavel Brázda died on 17 December 2017.

A selection of works

Commentary by Přemysl Arátor, Brázda’s close friend and expert on his work.

Railway station alley 1943-1954

One of the premises of hominism was its mistrust to modern art. That mistrust included formalism in virtually all strands of its avant-gardes as well as highly exclusive revolutions, i.e.  the imitative follow-up to elements from fauvism, expressionism, cubism and all their filiations, as well as surrealism.


The monster's waiting, the monster's bidind time (self-portrait of PB) 1949-1950

was the first painting that the 23-year-old author considered for a gallery. He cherished the hope that in a very distant, vague future it would be exhibited in Prague. Even in 1949, Brázda didn’t believe that the Communist dictatorship could change in a foreseeable future, and that Czechoslovakia could free itself from the Soviet system, or that the Soviet empire could fall other than by war. He wasn’t sure he’d live to see that change. That is also why he named the painting The Monster’s Waiting, the Monster’s Biding Time.

Forgotten to shave, haven't you? 1950

Mirrors depicted in this painting used to stand in private barbers’ shops and their display windows. Above them were usually signs with inscriptions like the above title or GOOD SHAVE, GOOD MOOD and OUR SMILE, YOUR SUCCESS. The painting means to be a mirror that reveals not only its protagonist but also bits of life that surrounds him.


In Forgotten to shave, haven’t you? the verism of a closely observed face, fingers and lather on the shaving brush and in the bathtub meets the motives from ordinarily illustrated and naively erotic magazines provided to P. B., a wall painter apprentice at the time, by his good master Zdeněk Výborný.


5 minutes before the end of the world 1945 - 53
5 minutes before the end of the world 1945 - 66

While V. Nováková worked on her second monumental composition Sic transit gloria mundi, this time with a simple ideological and compositional design, P. B. started to exploit and elaborate the sum of experience of a person who found his own life not so much in the outer world in which he never acclimatized, but rather – with mixed feelings – in the world of his imagination and its records, both literary and drawn.

Do-gooders (Bed is the right place od worship) 1953

Do-gooders (Bed is the right place od worship) is a radical demonstration of a change that remains distant to modern art and aims to be something else that begins beyond, expressing the reality in a manner unachievable by virtually any strand of that past art.


PB's wife Věra with out-painted wings 1951

Brázda’s strict opposition to modern art and its sloppy, casual improvisations was associated with unflagging respect to the solid art of old masters, as well as traditional disciplines like portrait or nude painting. In that, he had rather perfect models in masters like Cranach or Fouquet and Clouet, sometimes also Ingres, although what Brázda mainly appreciated in his Turkish Bath was that the bodies resembled oysters.

The walking boxes 1954

Walking Boxex presents a culmination of the loose story of Do-gooders. It is one of Brázda’s most notable paintings from 1950s, in which the stylized realism of the first half the decade reached a point balance between reality and super-reality, between factual concreteness and its abstraction, giving rise to a formally simple and classical work or art. The painting reminds of Gothic and early Renaissance styles. Not much, admittedly, but it has more in common with them than with modern art; except perhaps sharing some features with Chirico and some with Warhol. The Warhol-like elements are apparent at the first sight in the multiplied figures on the fence, but given the timing, the idea cannot have been Warhol’s influence; the painting was finished as early as 1944.

Astronauts 1954

The Silver astronaut, as far as it’s known, was the first factually depicted astronaut in a cosmic space suit to appear in 1954 on the Czech, or perhaps even international painting scene. In the painting the astronaut is somewhat stooped, as if under the weight of infinity, which anticipates a sort of metaphysical space. It all began with a photograph found by P.B. in a French magazine brought to Czechoslovakia. Hence the ASTRONAUTIK sign, erroneously derived from the French astronautique. The photograph was accompanied by the astonishing news that humanity was indeed going to fly to the Moon.

Large Astronaut 1954

The Large Astronaut is half human, half robot, or at least a human partly armoured in the middle of the universe, marked by black stars on golden background. And so there’s a figure standing firmly astride in the middle of the universe. The figure reaches his hands out, thus reaching with its power and the will to courageously venture in the space. He measures himself against its non-human infinite dimension and meaning, gives up on reaching it, accepts his human limits. He is both powerful and powerless. His raised hands can be interpreted in various ways. The Large Astronaut with its strange rendition of modern human being as a monumental statue of has remained a unique figure.

Guardian Angel 1954 - 61

The first version of the painting can be titled The Apprentice and the Humanist Angel. The apprentice remained unchanged in the final work. He is a lad who got to some monstrous factory (such as Moravská Ostrava as it was seen by P.B.) with heavy industry machinery operating with the motto: There’s a human being at the end of our effort, and the apprentice reacts with his own answer.

Racers 1956–1958

Racers no longer express a person’s feelings five minutes before the end of the world. They express changes in political atmosphere. The lavish colours of Racers alone contrast with the grey of previous paintings and suggest that something from the surrounding world began to open at the time. Thus, races can be seen as a competition between social systems, ideologies etc., but also as a struggle between individuals. We can see a chance brought by the thawing of those years, but also the drive of death, or life that can avoid death. Each racer – in his individual lane – can indeed win, or crush. Either way, each undergoes a risk, whose limits are never exactly calculable. The spectators around buy tickets and watch the race. They can look on, cheer, keep their fingers crossed, but that’s all they can do – if for no other reason, then because they don’t have machines that would allow them to join the race. In Grand Prix, the audience are still living people from 1950s.

Over the dead foe 1956–1958

The young soldier standing above the dead enemy is probably a Russian soldier over a dead German. This rosy-cheeked boy soldier, still a rookie who looks almost like a child, basically did nothing wrong – just obeyed like a child.

Father's portrait 1967

This portrait draws from the mutually tense and often conflicted relationship between the author and his model. It is an ironic celebration and humorous revenge for his past injustices and – as it subsequently turned out – future ones as well. The father is presented – and this is how he is generalised – as a self-centred and somewhat intimidating authority, a monumental centre of some three-part altarpiece. The result is a bizarre deity seen from a terrible proximity.

Tender-eyed tenderfoots tend to attend tender loins second version, 2005

The influence of personal circumstances generally appears with great delay in P.B.’s work. One extraordinary event was a great, spectacular tour of Italy that P.B. and V.N. went on in 1967 for 100 dollars that they had put together.

City behind the walls Late 1970s

City behind the Walls is a splendid, perfect painting, classical and aesthetically pleasing. The subject is more disturbing, though. It is Brázda’s subrealism at its deepest obscurity.

Trial late 1970s

This painting is above all a monument to the communist totalitarian system, and by extension, to all similar police regimes from inquisition to present-day torture chambers. It depicts political monster processes of 1950s, primarily with Milada Horáková, Záviš Kalandra and others, and their permanent marks in the following years of the resulting regime.


Frank the frank appearing larger-than-life 1970s

In early 1970s, PB met an old mason, Mr Stehlík, whom he helped with work on his family country home in Rumburk, and who was expert in stucco plastering. Brázda learnt to cast plaster from him. He began with a series of embossed faces. He made use of children’s plasticene; on a glass pad he moulded embossed heads or masks or faces, to be more exact. He based them on classical models, especially ancient ones from Mesopotamia, Egypt and ancient Greece.

Colorful heads Acrylic on canvas, 1994-95

After working on black-and-white xerox drawings and collages for an extended period, Pavel Brázda began rendering them in colour in past years. Out his black-and-white work, which has no smaller ambition than to cover the entire world theatre in all its beautiful and horrible positions, he decided to first render in colour human faces and heads.


from the colorful heads series digital print on canvas, 2007-2017
At the time of my big exhibition in the Prague National Gallery in 2006–7 I became intrigued by the computer, as it allowed me to process the drawn subjects much more directly and subtly. So I bought the hardware with two monitors, a bigger one for future paintings, a smaller one for technical details.
Explore the 21st century

These website was created by the family of Pavel Brázda. In cooperation with Tereza Havlovicová and Teodorik Menšl, we have tried to get as close as possible to the Master’s slightly unrealistic idea of their form.

If you would like to contact us, please use email, Facebook or Instagram.

The whole project was created under the auspices of Věra Nováková