Tomas Rajlich (1940) studied at the School of Decorative Arts and the Fine Art Academy of Prague. In 1967 he founded the group Klub Konkretistů, which was orientated towards the international neo-avantgardes represented by Azimut in Italy, ZERO in Germany and Nul in the Netherlands. In 1968 his work was first presented on the international scene when he participated in the exhibition Sculpture Tchécoslovaque in the Musée Rodin in Paris.
He went into exile from Czechoslovakia in 1969 after the Soviet invasion and moved to Netherlands, where he became a teacher at the Vrije Academie in The Hague. Rajlich’s interest in the construction of monochrome works on geometrically regular grids was immediately viewed favourably in the climate of Dutch conceptualism.
He held fundamental solo exhibitions in 1974 in the Yvon Lambert gallery in Paris, Art & Project in Amsterdam, and Françoise Lambert in Milan, which were his key galleries for many years. In 1975 he featured with Brice Marden, Robert Ryman, Gerhard Richter and others in the memorable exhibition Fundamentele schilderkunst: Fundamental painting in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. It was a milestone in the international recognition of analytical painting.
In the following years Rajlich was invited to show his work in such fundamental exhibitions as Elementaire Vormen (travelling exhibition, 1975), Fractures du Monochrome aujourd’hui en Europe (Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1978) and Bilder ohne Bilder (Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn, 1978).
His work soon moved towards the recovery of a full colour dimension open to symbolic and poetic suggestions, more open gestures and an irrational vitalism when he admitted a spectrum ranging from gold to pink, from pale blue to yellow and even red, without altering the process of rigorous elementary structuration of monochrome.
His first retrospective was held in Palazzo Martinengo, Brescia in 1993. His adoptive country, the Netherlands, honoured Rajlich with the prestigious Ouborg Award for his artistic contribution in 1994. On that occasion the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague inaugurated a second retrospective. Ten years later, in 2005, the same museum marked his sixty-fifth birthday with a retrospective of his works on paper.
In Czech Republic, the Dům umění města Brna organised an anthological exhibition in 1998, while in 2008 the National Gallery of Prague opened a retrospective with 27 large canvases, followed by a one-man show in the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague in 2016, Museum Kampa in Prague in 2017, and Museum Boijmans-Van Beuningen in Rotterdam in 2018.
Rajlich is rightly recognised as one of the leading figures of the international neo-avantgarde.
From 1999 to 2002 he was artist in residence at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, whose collection includes works by him. His works are also held by the Centraal Museum, Utrecht, the Musée d’Art et d’Industrie, Saint Étienne, the Musée Cantini, Marseille, Museum Boijmans-Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the National Gallery, Prague, the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation, Amsterdam, the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, the S.M.A.K., Ghent, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Stedelijk Museum, Schiedam, the Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal, Leiden, and the Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof, Delft.