UNFAMILIAR POINTS. JOSEF SIMA, RICHARD WEINER AND THE GROUP 'LE GRAND JEU'
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One of the most productive artistic encounters between Czech modern artists and the emerging French avant-garde took place in the second half of the 1920s within the group 'Le Grand Jeu'. Members of the group were in close contact with the much older poet and journalist Richard Weiner, a long-time resident of Paris, and with the painter Josef Sima, who also lived in Paris from the beginning of the 1920s on. Sima came to be one of the key members of 'Le Grand Jeu', as well as one of its most important artists, at the centre of the group's journalistic and exhibition activities. There was a great similarity, in terms of outlook and theme, between the poetic and thematic work of René Daumal and Roger Gilbert-Lecomte on the one hand and Richard Weiner on the other. They inspired one another and made a similar critique of rationalist civilisation, to which each of them brought his own experience and point of view to bear. They were particularly interested in the concept of paradise and criticised the simplified interpretation of the cognitive process as cerebral analytical judgement. Such judgement cut the contemporary individual off from contact with wholeness, miracles and grace, central concepts that 'Le Grand Jeu' tried to revive. In the extensive poetics, entitled The Barber-surgeon, which Weiner developed at the same time as the manifestos and other declarations of 'Le Grand Jeu', the contemporary individual, robbed of paradise, was distinguished from the surviving non-European cultures of primitive peoples. The latter were still living in paradise and the world of miracles, but were, paradoxically, unaware of these. After 1927, Sima became the main representative of these views in the visual arts. Contact with the representatives of 'Le Grand Jeu' opened up for him a 'second' sight, distinct from the purely sensuous sight that he had devoted himself to completely until then. Paintings such as 'Lightning', 'Double Landscape' and 'Meridian' in particular constitute key visualisations of the poetic and programmatic principles of 'Le Grand Jeu'. Although it resisted discursive approaches, in the end the group was compelled to turn to them in order to make its own programme comprehensible.
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