Ethos of the Gallery - why it was set up - what do you do with a person's life creativity when they are no longer here.

Voijtech Kinsky

23.1.08 - 16.9.68

Voijtech Kinsky was the 3rd child born to a very comfortable cultured Czechoslovakian family, who lived in Bratislava. His early life consisted of touring Europe to attend operas, theatre and meet with intellectuals. The war changed all that and he found himself a refugee in Sydney in 1942, living in Bellevue Hill. The accommodation was a rent controlled flat, No. 44 Bellevue Road, Bellevue Hill, overlooking Cooper Park - it was then considered to be the "pits" to live in a flat and the eastern suburbs was full of European refugees! In retrospect, it was very acceptable, comfortable accommodation, the epitomy of life in Sydney today.

He did not like Australia at that time, and indeed there was very little culture in Sydney - mainly beer drinking with pubs closing at 6pm and men spilling out on to the footpaths, no coffee shops or cafes, no opera house.

It was not really thought that the war would last as long as it did, and when it was over, Czechoslovakia was very soon taken over by the Communists, so that he did not ever return to his home land in Europe.

His marriage to Gerda (nee Kessner, from Berlin; 28.6.1909-21.4.72) produced 3 children, but fell apart in 1948. Divorce in those days was not acceptable, and a lengthy difficult time ensued. He later remarried into a well established Australian family.

As a way of settling in to Australia and overcoming the problems, and also because he enjoyed doing it, he painted ... and painted. He was actually very prolific - this exhibition contains just some of the many paintings he did, which are now scattered around among the different Kinskys.

His second wife tried very hard to get recognition for his work, but was told by many authorities that "they were nice amateur paintings of no artistic merit". On one occasion, at which I was present, she invited Desiderious Orban to their home and asked him to look at Voijtech's works. She then offered afternoon tea with a home made creamy mousse sweet. At the end, as he was leaving, Orban said "if your husband could paint as well as you can cook, then I might be interested"

One painting  - Katoomba Street - made it into a book "Landscape Art and the Blue Mountains" p93; Hugh Speirs, Griffin Press Ltd., 1981.

Despite this perceived lack of artistic merit, paintings can end up meaning something to their owner, and I have "got used to them" and "like them". I can"t throw them away, they need to hang and be seen and talked about. After all, it begs the question of "what is good art" a question which is still continuing to be asked in 2008.

Some of his images can be seen in our on-line gallery or on display at the Gallery.

Arabella (Ellie) Smith (nee Kinsky) 2.2.08