In spite of his physical weakness, and after years of enforced separation from his colours – in Buchenwald his only form of expression was writing – he returned with an extraordinary creative energy which endured until the end of his life. Nowhere is this creative spirit and resilience more evident than in his post-war large format paintings, of which the present work is an excellent example. It is an extraordinarily dramatic rendering of human suffering made all the more poignant by knowledge of the artist’s personal anguish that he experienced in the concentration camps during the war. In spite of the harrowing subject, the work retains a sense of triumph over evil, of survival, and of freedom - perhaps deriving from the bold colour and the majestic scale. Jaromir Zemina has described the present work as being ‘amongst the most expressive examples of the social commitment of Czech art after the second World War’. This great masterpiece, which has remained in the same private collection for forty years, survives as a universal image of post-war anxiety as well as being testament to Filla’s enduring artistic dialogue with Pablo Picasso.
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