Ladislav Novák

The Czech artist Ladislav Novák (1925-1999) is known as a pioneer in the
field of visual and sound poetry, but achieved most of his fame with his
so-called froissages. He developed this technique around 1964: a rumpled
sheet of paper has a certain line structure and this becomes the starting
point for a drawing. Jiři Kolár, a friend of Novák, followed the same method
later on.
Around the same time, Novák also started making topological drawings. These
‘half automatic’ pictures consist of one uninterrupted line that crosses
nowhere, but – visible through the paper – it can continue on the other
side. In fact, Novák loved experimenting. Before he embarked on his
froissages and topological drawings, he had tried out so-called alchimages
whereby pages from illustrated magazines were chemically treated. He also
made drawings by using candle smoke and called them fumages. Novák often
applied several techniques in one work as well, the most popular combination
being froissage and alchimage.
During his lifetime, Novák exhibited in several important foreign galleries,
like Galleria Schwarz in Milan, Galleria Ferrari in Verona, Donguy in Paris
and Studio Morra in Naples. In 1971, his work was also part of the konkrete
poëzie (concrete poetry) retrospective in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
Novák presented alchimages and froissages in Galerie A on two occasions,
namely in 1976 and 1981. During the latter show a handmade catalogue (twenty
copies) was presented. Henri Chopin wrote the introduction.