FIALA VACLAV background picture


(1896 – 1980)

Artist, painter, graphic artist, illustrator.

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Honoured Artist of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (1967). In 1928, he joined the Association of Czech graphic artists HOLLAR, and from 1956 to 1960 he headed it. He was awarded the Silver Medal at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1936, and in 1976 – by the Czechoslovak Order of Labour. 

The artist was born on 15 July 1896 in Prague. His father, whose name was also Vaclav, was an electrical engineer. This work required frequent moves, as a result, in 1898 the whole family moved to Petrograd, and in a few months later – to Moscow, then – to Rostov, Balaklava, Kyiv, in 1910 – to Vienna, and in 1911 Fiala’s settled in Kharkiv. He studied at the Kharkiv Higher Art School from 1911 to 1915, graduating with honour. After Kharkiv, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) for a year.

Troubled times led to the abrupt changes in the family’s life. In 1916, Vaclav returned to Kharkiv, and later his family went to Vladivostok. Here the artist created posters, painted caricatures for periodicals, illustrated "Buff Mystery" by V. Maiakovskyi, worked as a teacher of drawing, and took part in local exhibitions (1920, 1921, 1922).

In 1920, Vaclav met a Ukrainian futurist Davyd Burliuk, who with his sister Marianna, wife Mariia and two sons temporarily settled in this Far Eastern city. At that time, Vaclav did not earn enough, and Davyd invited him to live with his family.

In autumn 1920, Davyd Burliuk along with another Ukrainian artist Viktor Palmovyi arranged an exhibition-sale in Tokyo, Japan. Thanks to the earned funds, the Burliuk family and Vaclav would soon be able to join them. In Japan, artists organized exhibitions of futurists in two cities – Osaka and Kioto. In 1921, Vaclav Fiala and Marianna Burliuk married in Tokyo. In early 1922, Davyd Burliuk and his family went to the United States, and the newlyweds went to the Italian port city Trieste and then to Prague. In September 1922, their son Volodymyr was born.

From 1923 to 1927, Vaclav studied at the Prague Academy of Arts at the teacher-graphic artist Max Švabinský. Receiving annual scholarship, in 1927 he travelled to France. In Paris, the artist spent two years and participated in exhibitions of the Autumn Salon.

The study of folk types and customs led the artist to the Subcarpathian Rus (the name of Transcarpathia during the First Czechoslovak Republic), where he was attracted by the archaic and the fact that this region was not so far affected by civilization. During 1936 – 1937, the artist created a lot of works devoted to this land. From the artist’s recollections of that period: "I think that my stay in Subcarpathian Rus was one of the happiest periods of my life. I worked with inspiration. I was attracted by both beautiful nature and nice types of ordinary, simple-hearted people and their patriarchal life. In the local, economy the main role was played by a natural exchange. It seemed to me that I was in a country where time had come back for several centuries. I had to see the way of life, traditions, patterns of production everywhere, it took me back in the days of the ancient Slavs."

In March 1943, the Association of Museums held an exhibition of the artist in Slaný. The artist presented 119 works, among which there were new drawings, portraits and landscapes, as well as early paintings created in Japan and Ukraine.

From 1920 to 1975, the artist illustrated and designed more than 155 books of the Czech and world literature. In addition, an artist illustrated several of his own books: "Ogasawara" (1920), "Ueno Garden" (1931), "Road to Fudziyama" (1934), "Kaarantamo, a man from the Moon" (1936).

Vaclav held a lot of personal exhibitions: in Czechoslovakia, France, the USA, Poland, Great Britain, Japan, Bulgaria, and the USSR (five exhibitions). The last and the largest one (more than 300 works were exhibited together with illustrated books) was in 1976 in Lviv as well as later in Moscow. Participant in international book exhibitions in Hamburg, Krakow, Olomouc, Poznan, Como, Berlin, Budapest, Banska Bystrica, and others.

Text: Oleksandr Nikitchuk

Portfolio of works

Video archive


Книги та каталоги

Фіала В. Мої зустрічі на Срібній Землі= "My setkání na Stříbrné Zemi". – Ужгород: Карпати, 2005. – 136 с.: іл. – Текст укр. і чеськ. мовми.

Публікації в Інтернет-ЗМІ

Фіала Вацлав // "Закарпатська обласна універсальна наукова бібліотека ім. Ф.Потушняка". – 

Václav Fiala (ilustrátor) // –

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  • Biography
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  • Photo archive
  • Video archive
  • Bibliography