Jiří Máška was born in 1951 in Ražice, a small town in South Bohemia, Czech Republic. He has been an artist since his early childhood. His grandfather noticed Jiří’s talent and arranged for him to meet a friend of his, painter Říhánek. Říhánek taught Jiří the fundamentals of composition and colours, artistic sense, and the perception of art as a whole. Jiří’s mother supported her son’s work, buying him the best paints, brushes, and other art supplies. Říhánek stayed with his student until Jiří was 10. At that time, Jiří began to take painting classes with another painter, Jiří Rejžek, in the town of Strakonice. Rejžek taught Jiří until he was16, and then he supported Jiří’s application to the Arts school in Prague.
At the Arts school, Máška studied under Professor Janoch. After graduation in Prague, Máška returned to South Bohemia where he worked as Head of Promotion at the Park of Culture and Relaxation in České Budějovice.
Máška and several of his friends who were painters and sculptors, created an art group. They displayed art that was unacceptable by the Communist regime—the ruling government of the time. The Communist authorities closed down the group’s exhibition in 1983, which they followed by police harassment. This meant denying Máška the chance for publicity, because he could not display his art, and this also hampered his artistic development. In order to live, Máška needed to paint and express himself freely, so he left the country and immigrated to the United States. There he studied painting with Professor Hanson at Everett College in Washington.
Upon finishing his studies with Professor Hansen, Máška displayed his paintings in the Jackson Street Gallery in Seattle, Washington. The reaction to the exhibition was unambiguous, both by the public and critics—right away, Máška was offered to exhibit in New York.
After his exhibition in New York in the Ariel Gallery, a prestigious New York art magazine,Manhattan Arts, ran a full page feature on Máška. Renée Phillips, the Chief Editor, asked renowned art critic Elizabeth A. Witford to review the exhibition:
“The paintings by Jiří Máška are wild utterances of his creative spirit. He can paint both pictures that remind us of wood carvings, and pictures that are unbelievably delicate, more delicate than Japanese parchments. Máška has found a new speech, universal and concrete at the same time. It is a speech from soul to soul and it includes noises and thoughts that catch other thoughts and attract and pervade each other. The fantastic rhythm of Máška’s pictures, their composition, and quality remind one of works by the famous abstract expressionist Arshile Gorky. A new star is rising for all those who love art.”
Elizabeth A. Wilford, Art Critic
Máška displayed his paintings in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver, Paris, Monaco, Prague, Hong Kong, Macau, and other cities. His original works are admired by people in many countries all over the world.