Between Film and Painting

Zdeněk Rozkopal (October 2, 1924 – February 28, 2002) is associated with dozens of Czech and Slovak films and television series as a film architect, but his work spans many other cinematographic professions. As needed, he also worked as an artist, costume designer, concept author, screenwriter, and director, contributing to feature films, documentaries, animated films, puppetry, drawings, combinations, and special effects. His artistic handwriting has a recognizable character, yet it faithfully serves the material and its interpretation, often enriching it with a dreamlike poetic dimension. The basis of Rozkopal's artistic vision lies in a deep experience of his native Beskydy nature on one side and post-war studies in Prague on the other. A graduate of architecture and civil engineering at CTU (1945–1948) and at the same time of art education, mathematics, and descriptive geometry at Charles University (1946–1948), a quick draftsman and avid reader, he joined Karel Zeman at Kudlov in 1951 and remained his significant collaborator up to "The Chronicles of the Crazy" (1964). Fate led him to the genre of children's and youth films, whether collaborating with Václav Táborský, Josef Pinkava, or Radim Cvrček. He also made significant contributions to the work of Zdenek Sirový, Karel Kachyňa, Pavel Hobl, later Vladimír Drha, or Filip Renč.1

The introductory part of the exhibition "Zdeněk Rozkopal: Between Film and Painting" presents his rich film work and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the film world through examples from various phases of film preparation and realization that Rozkopal worked on. The exhibition includes designs for hairstyles and costumes for actors, technical scripts, set studies, or models for the series "Tales of Friendship" and the dragon Mrak model from the fairy tale film "Behind the Fence, There's a Dragon." It continues with work photos and the process of film preparation and shooting, such as "Journey to the Beginning of Time" (1955), "The Fabulous World of Jules Verne" (1958), "The Outrageous Baron Munchausen" (1961), "The Chronicles of the Crazy" (1964), "The Brave Blacksmith" (1983), etc. Interior and exterior exhibits used during film shooting are also on display. Additionally, graphics and paintings related to or inspired by the films are included. The exhibition also showcases diplomas and awards Rozkopal received at international film festivals – a diploma for participation at the festival in Tours, France, for the film "Mr. Prokouk the Detective" (1958) and a diploma for winning the animated film category at the International Film Festival in Vancouver, Canada, for the film "Mr. Prokouk the Acrobat" (1960). These awards testify to the recognition of his work and contribution to film art at an international level.

On the occasion of the exhibition and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Rozkopal's birth, the publication "Zdeněk Rozkopal: The Hidden Face of a Film Architect" was also published, offering a comprehensive view of his work and contribution to Czech and Slovak cinematography.

The second part of the exhibition presents the "artist's studio," where Rozkopal's paintings are exhibited. These works, densely packed on the walls, show his broad artistic range and the various techniques he used. Each painting tells its story and together they create a rich mosaic of his artistic world. It is possible to observe how his film experience intersected with his free creation and how he maintained his unique artistic identity outside the film screen. The selection of works also emphasizes Rozkopal's ability to combine realistic elements with imaginative ones, often mixing real and fantastical worlds, creating a unique visual experience that attracts detailed exploration of each piece.

The final part of the exhibition focuses on showcasing the artist's graphics, book illustrations, and ex libris. This section highlights his talent in graphic art, which was an integral part of his artistic career. Rozkopal's illustrations were often part of books, magazines, and other printed materials, where his ability to capture the essence of a story or theme in a single image was key. This part also includes a reminiscence by Jiří Jilík on Zdeněk Rozkopal's work, with whom he closely collaborated. It offers a personal view of his work and approach to creation.

Zdeněk Rozkopal was an exceptional figure in Czech art, whose work touched many areas. The exhibition "Between Film and Painting" provides insight into his extensive and multifaceted work. His ability to combine different techniques and styles, as well as his talent for capturing the atmosphere and essence of a theme, make his work an unforgettable part of our cultural heritage. The exhibition presents a unique opportunity to get acquainted with the work of this significant creator and appreciate his contribution.

Miroslava Ptáčková


1 LUKEŠ, Jan, PTÁČKOVÁ, Miroslava (ed.). Zdeněk Rozkopal: Skrytá tvář filmového architekta. Zlín: FILMFEST, 2024. ISBN 978-80-907165-2-0.