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JAROSLAV KERLES ( 3.11.1939 - 8.3.2014 )



Jaroslav Kerles (3.11.1939, Praha – 8.3. 2014, České Budějovice) was a Czech artist, cartoonist and illustrator, and a long standing contributor to the humor magazine Dikobraz. Although he was born in Prague, he spent all his life in South Bohemia in České Budějovice, and developed a love for South Bohemia, which he came to regard has his home. He created approximately one thousand cartoons – most of them are classics of Czech cartoon humor. He also illustrated scores of books for adults and children. His work was exhibited in the Czech Republic and internationally.

After graduating from high school in České Budějovice, he first worked as a constructor for Hydroprojekt then as a marketing artist for the Česká Pojišťovna and Klenoty companies. In 1970, while in his early 30‘s, Kerles decided to make his living as a freelancer. He became a regular contributer to the humor magazine Dikobraz and soon became famous for some of the elements of his style, specifically the forms of figures with big noses and shoes of his characters, as well as the emphasis he placed on South Bohemia. He soon became one of the most famous cartoonist of his time.

While Dikobraz was the major outlet for his work, he also contributed to other magazines and books. As the most known illustrations are considered to be the illlustrations included into the book by Robert Fulghum, Daniela Fischerová, Robert Šmejkal. His books for children became very popular. Kerles was also an accomplished oil painter, however, he did not exhibit his paintings, as such few know of his talents in this field.

Jaroslav Kerles is among those artists whose specific style is closely connected to their way of life and life philosophy. He shared that he found inspiration for his characters and his humour during his walks and cycling trips throughout South Bohemia. During these trips he always noticed the sorts of humourous details that enriched his work. He also found inspiration for his work by his family and friends. He and his wife Věra, had three children and spent 53 years together.

After the Velvet Revolution in 1989 he engaged in some commercial and promotion work. For example, he created the symbol of South Bohemia, Carp Jakub. For Czech television he illustrated the bed-time stories for children titled, Pan Hú. During this period he continued to be featured in exhibitions within the Czech Reblublic as well as internationally.

The picture book „ Jak vtipy přicházejí na svět“ published in 1991 became a bestseller – he described the sources of his inspiration. Five years later his dream came true and together with his son Petr he published the book „ Legrace v pohádce“, which included not only his drawings, but also his own poems.

Despite changes in the world of cartoons, which became more satirical and vulgar, Jaroslav Kerles stayed true to his kind style of humour. He was known to be exceptional in that his humour put people in a good mood.