Jan Kaplický Drawings

Nic Clear

  • 9th November - 16th December
  • Stephen Lawrence Gallery

This exhibition commemorates Jan Kaplický, who was one of the most gifted and visionary architects working at the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century. His death in 2009 at the age of 71 robbed the world of a designer whose virtuosity was only just coming to wider public attention, having been a benchmark in the world of architecture for nearly three decades.

His trademark ‘futuristic’ style was formed from the intersection of the bold elegance of Czech modernism, the sweeping lines of the Baroque and intricacy of the exploded technical diagram. His work moved beyond a simple categorisation as High Tech into a realm where technology was both a utopian image and absolute fact.

Kaplický always felt that drawings were the epitome of the ‘decisive creative act’ and the care and intricacy of his drawings show the workings of a man who was passionate in the pursuit of precision. Produced before the rise of computer aided drafting (CAD), the complexity of form and the delicacy of line are astonishing, and coupled with a wit and originality around programme and a genuine commitment to an ethical use of technology and materials Kaplický’s works represent a liberating and joyful approach to architecture.

The exhibition re-presents material from a book published last year by Circa Press, featuring Kaplický’s most iconic projects produced on his own and in collaboration with Future Systems partners David Nixon and Amanda Levete. The book is an exquistive testimonial to a man whose quest for a synthesis between technology and form was manifest in the detail and care that are apparent in every line. The drawings are presented at various scales to communicate Kaplický’s obsessions and to demonstrate to a generation of brought up on CAD that the complexity of an idea maybe found in the economy of lines and not solely in their abundance.

The exhibition has been designed and curated by Nic Clear, Head of Architecture and Landscape at the University of Greenwich and a long time Kaplický fan.

Exhibition produced in collaboration with Circa Press with support from the Czech Embassy, London

Installation photos: Robbie Munn

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Jan Kaplický Drawings