Karel Lek MBE, RCA is one of Wales' most repected artists. He was born in Antwerp in 1929 but while still a boy moved with his parents as a war refugee to North Wales. He studied at Liverpool College of Art.He has exhibited regularly across Wales, but has also shown in London, Amsterdam and Chicago. In July 2005, the National Library of Wales purchased six paintings and two sketchbooks for the national collection.
"I believe the 'divine' is in the ordinary. The older I get the more I like immediacy even though this might necessitate having several goes at a subject before I feel that I have captured the essence. A slight movement of a shoulder can say more than a thousand words. I paint what I love
The misfortunes of the last War brought me, as a boy of 11, from Antwerp to North Wales, where I have lived for over 70 years. I sometimes wonder whether this qualifies me to call myself a Welshman! I was educated at Friars Grammar School, Bangor, and from there went to Liverpool College of Art.
I have been connected with the Royal Cambrian Academy for well over 50 years, first as an Associate Member at the age of 24, and as a full Member a few years later.
I paint continuously, most of my subjects are my fellow men and women in whatever situation I find them, whether in urban or rural surroundings, but it is the changing seasons of Autumn and Winter which appeal to me most.
Painters express themselves visually and, in my case, my tubes of paint and bottles of ink serve my purpose rather than words. Whatever critics say about my work, I hope they may say it conveys honesty and compassion.”
The late Donald McIntyre RCA (Hon. Retd.) wrote :-
For over 50 years Karel Lek has been associated with the Royal Cambrian Academy, so I have had plenty of time to know and like his work.
Karel paints and draws people, modest people in modest situations, recorded with a wry humour that is never malicious. Not for him the epic scenes of heightened drama, but very often old folk shopping or gossiping. Events met with every day in small towns or villages – and when you see them in real life you think, ‘there goes a Karel Lek’ which is a tribute to the artist and his vision.”