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Josef Uprka

Josef Uprka

(29. 9. 1939)

The academic sculptor Josef Uprka was born on 29 September 1939 in Hroznová Lhota in the region called Moravian Slovakia. He had a sense of art since the childhood: his grandfather was a famous Moravian painter Joža Uprka, the father Jan was also a painter and besides that he had a pottery workshop. The numismatic work of Josef Uprka is very diverse. The very first commemorative medal he created for the Museum of Jan Amos Comenius in Uherský Brod in 1974. His most famous works include commemorative medals created on the occasion of the visit of the Pope John Paul II. in Velehrad (1990). Until now he has realized around thirty minted medals and a number of cast commemorative medals.The artist is also the author of the obverse side of the last circulated 10 Czech Crowns coin bearing the portrait of Alois Rasin, once the Minister of Finance of Czechoslovakia. In the seventies and eighties, Josef Uprka cooperated with the bellfounder Josef Tkadlec from Halenkov on the decoration of cast bells.




How do you perceive medals or coins from the philosophical point of view?

Look, paper burns down, but minted or cast metal medals persist forever. After all, archeologists still find coins that bear witness of past times. There were many people, who had a fixed idea and followed the idea the whole lifetime or people, who achieved something significant. Be it for example Comenius, Hus or the emperor Charles IV., they certainly deserve that their legacy should be recorded or logged into something almost indestructible. From another perspective, it is also an expression of respect for these figures and an appreciation of what they did in their lives.

What motivated you to do the artistic career?

My home. I grew up in a creative environment: Joža, my grandfather, was a painter specializing himself in folkloristic themes. Although I experienced him only briefly. My dad Jan was also a painter and during the World War II he had a pottery workshop, where he raised adepts. The guys processed ceramics and wood, the girls learned painting of Easter eggs and embroidery. It fascinated and motivated me at the same time, how a piece of clay a human hand proved to transform into a beautiful thing.

The bas-relief is a challenging discipline. Can you describe your way to the work with the bas-relief?

The low relief I got virtually to through the high relief. Yet in the secondary school, we were transferring a still life, portraits or semi-figures on to a relief. Then came the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, and there was a creative atmosphere there, the contact between artistic ateliers worked. I had the opportunity to see, what is the creation in the Nušl atelier (Jan Nušl, Czech sculptor) or in the Libenský atelier (Stanislav Libenský, Czech glassmaker). The master Harcuba at that time was realizing a number of coins already, Imrich Svitava, Jiří Dostál and Ivan Lipták as well. We can say that the paragons attract. It means that, when the house-keeper forbade us the access into the atelier on Saturdays, I also switched to coins. Finally, the misery taught us the life, you know.

How many medals or coins have you realized at all?

It is just one coin. It was the last Czechoslovak 10 CZK coin from 1992 with Alois Rašín on. I created the portrait reverse side. The obverse side was made by Jarmila Truhlíková-Spěváková. Almost regularly, I attended contests of the Czech National Bank and won several third prizes. Unfortunately, I do not keep a precise record of the number. Among them, there was a prize for a silver coin with the denomination one hundred Czech Crowns dedicated to the centenary of the birth of Viktor Kaplan (1976). Another was the prize for the silver coin with the denomination fifty Czech Crowns dedicated to the centenary of the birth of Stanislav Kostka Neumann (1975) and others. There has been really a big number of minted or cast medals, which I also have not counted.


Another artworks prepared by Josef Uprka

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