By Prerna SM Jain
PRAGUE! A city of art and the cultural hub of Czechoslovakia. This city has seen many transformations in its art scene over the past few years. From the national revival movement, to cubism, to the now contemporary art movement, this city has a lot to offer to all art lovers. I had gone to Prague to discuss Czech art and its business, with one of the most important galleries of the country. This gallery has 7 sites which are fed by a constant throng of tourists and has over 15,000 art works.
Roman Štětina-‘Souvenir’ (2015)
Just as the title of the exhibition suggests, the art displayed here is through the medium of figures! Ancient Greek figures juxtapose with the modern elements. In the work Souvenir, gold paint is spilt on top of the figures head, as if to suggest that the sculpture is bleeding and is highlighting the journey from historical work to the world of contemporary art.
Pavla Sceranková – ‘Measuring’ (2015)
Another interesting work is that by the globally-renowned artist Roman Ondak, entitled Teaching to Walk (2002). In this performance, a woman enters the gallery to teach her one-year old son how to walk. The performance repeats every day and lasts for 30 minutes.
Anna Hulačová’s work ‘Charioteer’ (2017), is inspired by Apple’s Siri and it shows us the interaction between a figure and the virtual world, it is a contemporary take on the ancient Greek work ‘The Charioteer of Delphi’.
This exhibition uses videos, photography and installations as a way of reflecting the use of figures as a means to communicate art and expression.
Do you think that globalization is making everything very uniform?
“I don’t think so because everyone is looking for something special for him/her so there are a lot of ways how to express. They (artists) are very different in the way of thinking and in the form of the art, there is a lot of ideas around us.”
Is Czech art loosing its traditional touch, or its cultural essence?
I don’t think so, we can’t say everyone is losing connection with historical art but there a lot of young artists who are working directly with some forms from the history of the art, Some artists are influencing them because there was the avant garde from 60s which was very important for the Czech art development. So, a lot of them from the 60s are still working so they are in daily connection with them, and so they are very influenced.
So which are some art works that the Gallery has acquired?
So last year for instance, we focused on artists who have exhibited in our gallery and in every exhibition we try to get some important work of art, and because there is this occasion of the exhibition and the artist offers us very interesting prices, so we could buy some important things for half or thirds of average usual price, it is a way for us to get something very important. We are focused on Czech artists. Other art is not possible for us because the prices are 10 times or 20 times higher than Czech artists. We have 6 million or 7 million for acquisitions and an average price for an important art work is between 10 – 20 million. But, contemporary is much more cheaper.
What was the best time to acquire art?
We don’t have a permanent collection because of a lack of high quality art and we try to make some reasonable acquisitions now, but it is a little late because it was a great time in the 90s as a lot of private collection that was decided by the state, came to national institutions. In the 90s , they came back to the private owners, but mostly it was the 3rd or 4th generation of the collectors that decided to sell it. There was a lot of important work and everything from the collections was from the main period between the wars, of the Czech avant garde and , of course, from the French art which was collected in the French Republic from the beginning of the 19th century with the art salon, so it was a great time to make acquisitions.”
Which is your most memorable exhibition?
From my career? Its difficult to say because they are so different but maybe exhibition of Květa Pacovská who was a very important artist of the 60’s generation. She’ s a book artist, but it is so different from the other illustrators or artists who are open to the art of book because she makes a collection of pictures. Every page of the book is a self standing picture with self standing expression. She is very popular in Japan of course and Japan and China are the most important countries of this kind of art. The history of ink drawings is 3000 years old, so they have a big history of this kind of art. It’s funny because she is much more popular abroad than in Czech, and we are very proud to have her exhibition in City gallery because it was the first exhibition of this size which introduced the complexity of her art.
According to you what is the definition of a good work of art?
A Good work of art is that which moves your emotions and that which takes some important questions on table. It’s hard to say any favorite artist. My favorite thing is the art not the artist.
—The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org