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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Yellow portrait (portrait of Alex Jelinek), 1955

Lina Bryans

oil on plywood (frame: 183.7 cm x 122.7 cm)

Alex Jelinek (1925–2007), architect and designer, graduated from the technical building school of Hradec Králové, near Prague, during World War II. In 1946 he became attached to the architectural school of the Prague Academy of Fine Arts, but just weeks before he was due to graduate, he fled communist Czechoslovakia to live as a displaced person in West Germany. In 1950 he emigrated to Australia on a labour contract. Initially working in Melbourne, laying track, the cultivated Praguer ended up on the Eucumbene Dam site. Some time before 1955 he met the artist Lina Bryans, and they began a lifelong relationship. Prickly with prospective clients, Jelinek was a visionary of genius, drawing brilliant designs for far more structures than he ever realised. For Bryans’s second cousin, Canberra academic Bruce Benjamin, he carried out the spiral ‘Round House’ in Gawler Crescent, Deakin, which was named Australian House of the Year in 1957 and is now heritage-listed. In 1962 he designed a roadhouse at Peregian Beach that was converted to a motel before it was knocked down in 2003. Otherwise, his modifications to Bryans’s two Melbourne houses were his only solid architectural contributions. His huge sculpture, Quill (1974) and some aluminium furniture he designed are now in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Paul and James Bryans
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2015

Accession number: 2015.33

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Lina Bryans (age 46 in 1955)

Alex Jelinek (age 30 in 1955)

Subject professions

Architecture, design and fashion

Related portraits

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Yellow portrait (portrait of Alex Jelinek), 1955 Lina Bryans
Yellow portrait (portrait of Alex Jelinek), 1955 Lina Bryans
Yellow portrait (portrait of Alex Jelinek), 1955 Lina Bryans
Yellow portrait (portrait of Alex Jelinek), 1955 Lina Bryans

Fugue in Yellow

Magazine article by Roger Benjamin, 2015

Roger Benjamin explores the intriguing union of Lina Bryans and Alex Jelinek.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.