The Cabinet is a pictorial poem inspired by Messages on the Present Hour (1947) written by Zdeněk Lorenc (1919–1999), dedicated to the individual members of Group Ra: painters Josef Istler (1919–2000), Václav Tikal (1906–1965), Bohdan Lacina (1912–1971) and Václav Zykmund (1914–1984), as well as photographers Miloš Koreček (1906–1989) and Vilém Reichmann (1908–1991), and writer Ludvík Kundera (1920–2010).
Group Ra began forming during the wartime years at the instigation of the young generation of artists and writers that sought to abandon its isolation and find its niche on the art scene, particularly in relation to prewar Surrealism. The members of the group re-evaluated the appeal of the founder of Surrealism, André Breton, for psychic automatism in its pure state in art, harbouring instead the need to consciously exercise control over their gestural painting and the resulting visual form. They were in agreement with the Surrealist Manifesto in the endeavour to find the juxtaposition of all contrasts, the real and the surreal, life and death. In its initiation treatise of 1947, Group Ra strove to grasp the substance of contemporary art, avowing its lyrical values, “which have a universally human validity and which are a sublimation of love and hate, hope and despair, joy and grief.”
The group was not strictly defined in terms of its theoretical tenets; in their tireless search for their own identity, the members of the group shared the method of poetic lyrism, an imagination tending towards abstraction, and the reflection of the anxiety prevalent at the time in the sense of expressing empathy with the fate of man and the country, affected by war destruction. In their creative output, the artists heralded important chapters in the history of modern art, the European Art Informel movement, Body Art and Action Art of the 1960s. In 1947, they held their first collective exhibition. Shortly afterwards, the following year, the group’s activities were discontinued and their endeavours to produce art in an international context were severed due to the devastating situation in the sphere of culture and society as a whole.