Anatomy III, an acrylic on canvas from 2012–2014, is part of the Anatomy series, a precursor to The Bestiary (2015–2018), the author’s most extensive series to date. Both series include dozens of large format paintings featuring animals and hominids, most of which are entirely imaginary, thus precluding the viewer from easily identifying or zoologically classifying individual animals, human beings or their individual parts and components. This painting, one of the first of the series, is no exception: it constitutes something akin to an anatomical inventory of a living being. Some of the calligraphic features and the overall horizontal form of the emerging creature suggest we may be encountering a male animal, possibly an ungulate. Queries regarding the precise nature of the content remain unanswered by the artist, a tell-tale sign that such a painting is created subconsciously rather than consciously, in an associative manner with the artist using the canvas not unlike a notepad, not knowing what his creation will look like. Indeed, such an absolute absence of rationality is quite rare and thus highly valued in art, especially when devoid of aesthetic or commercial speculation.
Lukáš Musil, commonly known by his pseudonym Musa, is a unique Czech artist working outside the mainstream. A former professional hockey player and Czech junior national team member, he left the Sparta Prague locker room in 2011 to forge a career in the visual arts. He initially built on his experience with tattooing, which he had previously engaged in alongside his ice hockey career. In fact, he was already internationally recognized in the field, having exhibited e.g. at the Musée du quai Branly in Paris. He is considered to be the most original and most prominent Czech tattoo artist. Since 2015, however, he has limited his tattooing activity in order to focus fully on painting. His monumental canvases represent the individual stages of his search for an authentic expression. He favours spray paint, as the technique allows him to achieve a more authentic expression and gesture than the brush. His series of large-format canvases are remarkably interlinked, likely inadvertently and subconsciously, with the intent of producing a new creation, a personal universe extending from the darkest spaces to cosmogonic explosions to the origins of human and animal life. The 2015 Anatomy series combines external and internal views of imaginary human and animal creatures with detailed – though logically also imaginative – descriptions, provided using a script reminiscent of Chinese calligraphy. In 2016, this synthetic stage was followed by The Bestiary, which centred on the external appearance of imaginary animals, thus comprising a more definite fifth day of creation.
Lukáš Musil, Animal VII, 2017, spray paint and artificial leather, 200 x 142 cm.
Musa’s paintings have been presented at several solo exhibitions, including at the Aleš South Bohemian Gallery in Hluboká nad Vltavou in 2015 and at the Musa vs. Jágr exhibition at the Pro arte Gallery in 2016. In the summer of 2017, an extensive presentation of The Bestiary series took place at the Mánes Exhibition Hall at an event entitled Signature. Pro arte owns a substantial collection of Musa’s large-format canvases and has high hopes for the artist’s future, regarding his work as entirely independent of standard practices and thus authentic, unique and inspiring.
Musa. Aleš South Bohemian Gallery, Hluboká nad Vltavou, 2016.
Musa: Bestář. Prague, 2017, Foundation of Art collections with financial support of Pro arte fund.
Musa: Slabikář. Prague, 2017, Foundation of Art collections with financial support of Pro arte fund.
Acquired from the artist’s studio in 2016.