A typographer by training, Košek first became a fairly conventional artist. When he fell into psychosis, he began to produce works as radical as poetic. Convinced that he plays a decisive role in the sequencing of the world, he spends his time at his window, recording his observations - meteorology, bird flights, insignificant facts - and aggregating them into diagrams supposed to ward off chaos. For fifteen years and across the world, from the Palais de Tokyo to the maison rouge, from the MONA (Australia) to the DOX in Prague and the Rencontres d’Arles, his Sibylline maps have been constantly interrogating.
Zdeněk Košek worked as a typographer and drew caricatures and satirical cartoons for regional magazines and newspapers. A self-taught artist, he has also produced a number of more or less conventional paintings. In the 1980s a deep psychological trauma gradually changed his perception of the world; he was diagnosed as psychotic and had to retire in 1989. From then on he would produce a work radically different from his previous paintings.
Meteorology and weather are the main themes of his works on paper. Košek was convinced that he played a determining role at heart of the great ruling of the world. He saw himself as a kind of power station, continuously receiving and emitting multitudes of information. He thought that his duty was to master the meteorological phenomena.
“I mastered not only the time but also politics, I named Vaclav Havel president. […] I thought I was immortal”.
He spent his days in front of the window, convinced that he could provoke or control the weather, writing down everything that was happening around him : the direction of the wind, the flight of the birds, sounds, the changes on temperature, different combinations of numbers, letters and chemical elements, etc. He would draw on notebooks, maps, atlas or old magazines. His diagrams served him as a direct means to influence weather - an indispensable ritual dictated to him, to which he abandoned himself in order to avoid his biggest fear, the irreversible chaos. By sticking his schemes onto the window of his apartment, he communicated with birds, which he believed to be superior to man.
For its reopening in 2012, the Palais de Tokyo (Paris) has devoted an exhibition to him. Zdeněk Košek has also recently been exhibited twice at the Maison rouge: Le Mur, works from the Antoine de Galbert collection and art brut, abcd/Bruno Decharme collection, then in Le bord des Mondes at the Palais de Tokyo in 2015.
Texts : Barbara Safarova, Jaromír Typlt, Manuel Anceau
Foreword : Christian Berst
Catalog published to mark the exhibition zdeněk košek : dominus mundi, from september 3rd to october 10th, 2020.