Nelson artist Frantisek Strouhal's work has been juried into five shows across Canada and the United States in 2014.

Kootenay artist captures moment of ecstasy

Frantisek Strouhal's work has been juried into five art shows across Canada and the U.S. in 2014.

Nelson visual artist Frantisek Strouhal’s composition The Celestial Sound has been accepted for a prestigious exhibition put on by the Federation of Canadian Artists. The image, inspired by the Quattrocento movement of the 15th century, depicts a bearded man gazing skyward in a moment of spiritual ecstasy.

Strouhal created the image using photography, lithography and paint starting three years ago. He used a bearded model who looked appropriately iconic, complete with a historical costume sewed by his wife. Then, over the course of a few hours, he painstakingly attempted to capture the essence of a “moment of ecstasy.”

“The man who I picked, he was going to represent searching for the truth,” said Strouhal, who is 62. “In the moment, in that stillness, I was trying to capture that ecstatic feeling from the figure and get it on to the paper. The light was essential. His eyes, his expression. The composition is absolutely simple, but the expression of the moment, the search, the vision, the intention. All of that was in it for me.”

Strouhal’s art comes from a multi-generational family tradition, starting in the Czech Republic. As a young boy his father and grandfather often used him as a subject, and he was comfortable in their studios.

After he fled Europe during a revolution in 1989, he made it his mission to get to the Kootenays.

Ever since then, he’s been working slowly and deliberately at his studio in Passmore. And though he’s worked in faster mediums, has spent some time as a writer and studying fashion design, it’s visual art that remains his primary passion.

Strouhal is very particular about his process. The Celestial Sound, for instance, took years to complete, and he created all the materials used himself. Some of his mediums have not been in popular use since the 1850s, or even earlier, but he relishes keeping these art forms alive.

Strouhal’s work has been juried into shows in the United States and Canada five times in 2014. He’s thrilled be the attention, but is trying to continue focusing on the work itself.

“The work takes so much of my time, I have none for anything else. I am consumed,” he said.

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