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JOSEF DRHA

Josef Drha, with his proper name Josef Deingruber, was born in Ostrava-Hulváky on 3 March, 1912 as the third child out of six children.

Josef’s father worked as a locksmith, his mother maintained a household and took care of the family. However, the labour environment in which the boy was growing up did not prevent him from finding a way to his own fine art creation. 

After graduating at the basic and then a four-class civic school, Josef Deingruber learned to be decorator. However, he did not do this job for a long time.

In the insecure 1930s (1930-1936), he attended Masaryk’s Higher Folk University and then took private classes of landscape painting by Vilém Wünsch and classes of nude by Jan Obšil. He completed his studies in 1945.

At that time, Deingruber was already making money. In the years 1935 – 1947 he was one of the four painters in Antonín Jemelka’s atelier who made pictures for the wide public. He signed his pictures J. D. Gruber at that time already. In his search for individual approach to art, he changed his name again. This time for the last time, he changed it from Josef Deingruber to Josef Drha.

After the World War II, he devoted himself to painting intensively. In 1947 he became a member of the Association of Moravian Fine Artists in Moravská Ostrava, and two years later, his work is presented at an exhibition (common with Augustýn Handzel) in the House of Enlightenment in Hrabůvka.  As time progressed, his canvases appeared at exhibition halls of the whole region. In 1949 they were also exposed in Prague at a team exhibition called An Artist among Miners. However, to organise his own exhibition, he had to wait until 1954, when his paintings were introduced solemnly at the gallery "Dílo" in native Ostrava.

Josef Drha’s pictures penetrated even behind the former Czechoslovak borders. In 1962 he had exhibitions in Katowice, later in Volgograd, Dresden as well as Paris.

Drha’s work is characterized by scenes from Beskydy Mountains. As a landscape painter he also pictured the neighbouring Tatra Mountains. He devoted himself to industrialisation in Ostrava and its reflection in everyday's life as well. His paintings depicting the church of Saint Catherina in Ostrava-Hrabová and pictures of ordinary people working on the field are well-known. The versatile creative individuality of the author allowed him to paint still life and nude. From the very beginning of his artistic career, he was engaged with sacral mural paintings. In 1945 he already cooperated (with Jan Obšil) in the decoration of the church in Bělotín, followed with work in Březová, Dětmarovice (1957) and Svinov (1957). The former monastic chapel - which is the seat of the chancellor’s office of the University in Ostrava nowadays - is decorated with his mural painting Bohemian Heaven. Most of his work is represented by oil paintings, but many graphics can also be found in the repertory of Josed Drha’s pieces of work.

In 1952, he was awarded the Prize of the Town Ostrava for his fine art by his native town. The local Gallery of fine art also owns a large part of Drha’s pictures. However, his canvases can be found in collections of the National Gallery in Prague or the Gallery of Eastern Bohemia in Pardubice, too.

Josef Drha died in the circle of his closest family on 22 December, 2009 at an advanced age of 97 years.