The Czech Cultural Centre in London is gearing up for a big event this weekend – an exhibition of visual art by the Czech-born artist Kateřina Šedá called from Morning till Night. I asked the head of the centre, Ladislav Pflimpfl, who was on a brief visit to Prague this week, what it is all about and what else is in the pipeline for fans of Czech art this autumn.
“This Saturday - between St. Paul’s Cathedral and Tate Modern - Kateřina Šedá, a Czech visual artist is orchestrating a project where 80 villagers from a small Moravian village are going to move along the virtual boundaries of their village that is drawn on the pavement between St. Paul’s and Tate Modern and will follow their daily routines from the village. They will be surrounded by local professional and amateur artists who are going to paint the village. The project was commissioned by Tate modern and is supported by a number of partners including Kateřina’s Italian gallery. This is the fourth subsequent year that Kateřina has a project in the UK and that of course attracts the attention of the media, people from Tate Modern, people who follow visual arts.”
What kind of people come to your gallery and what are they most interested in?
“Well, because they are Londoners they are spoilt for choice, they are interested in something that is cutting-edge, that is new, that is engaging, that is inter-active, that is really worth a visit. The public we are working with are people who want to see events that are internationally competitive – things that are new – and it does not matter whether it is Czech contemporary art or central European – if you bring a theme and artist who has something to say - something that is recognizable on the London scene or within the UK you are going to get people who areolymijsky interested.”
So who are the cutting-edge Czech artists who have managed to evoke interest in London?
“That is the subject of our continuous interest and research. I already mentioned Kateřina Šedá, but there are other artists who are doing really well. We have six or seven artists who represent a new generation of young Czech artists who are now living and working in London. We have Tereza Bušková, who recently graduated from the Royal College of Arts, we have the graffiti artist Masker, another artists who is doing really well is Jakub Hošek, there is Hynek Martinec who settled here following his success at the BP Portrait Award. A number of artists are doing really well though I suspect they are not yet recognized in the Czech Republic, because they seem to be almost completely cut off from their roots, they do not seem to feel the need to keep in touch, they are developing their own artistic expression, they have their own contacts they are making a name for themselves here and I really appreciate the fact that they have the energy and ambition to make it on their own in London – so we like watching them and, whenever we can, working with them.”
So what’s in the pipeline for the immediate future – what would you highlight as really worth seeing?
“One of the really popular events is our annual Film and Performing Arts Festival called Made in Prague regularly hosted by the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith. For people who are professionally interested in Czech art then there is the Hunt Kastner gallery at the Frieze Art Fair. Jiří Kovanda is coming to the gallery in Birmingham and if I can invite everyone to something really big – then look forward to the Olympics, because the Czech centre is working with the Czech Olympic Committee and other partners on a large cultural season that will celebrate the games and culture. The Czech Olympic House will be hosted by Islington – a very trendy, off-central place – with exhibitions, screenings, studio visits, exhibitions of Czech architecture, design, live concerts. It will be our largest undertaking in 10 years.”
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