Oldřich Jelen was born in Váchal´s Bělá pod Bezdězem where he got trained in bookbinder - just like Josef Váchal. His first teacher was a master of bookbinder craft Josef Josef. Jelen took private lessons of drawing and painting and at the same time he took occasional jobs such as a night firer or an assistant in sculpture workroom. After 1989 he was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. There he started at first in painting atelier of prof. Bedřich Dlouhý, then drawing atelier of prof. Jitka Svobodová and eventually in atelier of prof. Aleš Veselý. After that, he once and for all left the Academy and tried to gain his artistic freedom. His cooperation with periodicals has developed already during his studies at Academy. At first, he was asked to create small thematic illustrations but after short period he gained creative freedom. On this base he created paintings for Národní Listy newspaper, Mladý svět magazine (illustrations for Michal Horáček´s „Dopisy z lásky a nenávisti“), Lettre internationale, Středoevropské noviny (section of Lidové noviny), Pátek (Lidové noviny

magazine), Playboy, Penthouse, Kmit (journal of Centre of independent journalism that was developing completely in his illustrator direction), Transitions (international magazine about transformations in post communist societies), QUO magazine, Hospodářské noviny and others. In 1998 he started to work as an illustrator for Albatros Publishing House. In the same year he won a prize of Albatros Publishing House for illustrations for Jostein Gaarder’s book „Haló, je tu někdo?“. In 1999 he was awarded „Zlatá stuha” prize in Brno for illustrations for Jostein Gaarder’s book „Jako v zrcadle, jen v hádance“. By the year 2004 he had made illustrations for dozens more books. One of his latest illustrations were made for Michal Horáček‘s book „O české krvi otců vlasti“ which was published in 2004 in LN Publishing House and won recognition among professionals and as well nonprofessionals and it became a bestseller at a book fair. Oldřich Jelen combines free and applied art in an uncommon way. Although essential part of his artworks originate on the base of literary impulse, his pictures overreach initial text and create also their own worlds and stories and have own individual and independent life. With help of an original technique aquarelle and pencil he creates a new magic reality. His cultivated scenes that are linked to tradition are special, meditative, overreaching and subphilosophizing. Exceedingly fine art is not a bar to often magnificent scenes. Currently he applies himself to lithography where he’s assessing his perfect drawing technique. In lithographic workroom, he found real „master of his craft“ in Petr Korbelář, the pressman. With his help Oldřich Jelen creates lithographic papers with exceptional precision. Except making free graphics he mainly creates "ex libris" - a phenomenon of a book mark for collectors from around the world. Since 2015 he is a member of "Association of Czech graphic artists of Hollar" (Sdružení českých umělců grafiků Hollar). Oldřich Jelen is without question an outstanding personality of Czech art scene.

photo Mona Martinů