Stained glass graffiti installed at Lucerna

16-10-2013

Restoration work at the famous Palác Lucerna in Prague has taken an unusual turn – combining modern street art with the ancient technique of window decoration. The feature that has attracted attention is a stained glass window that was designed by one of the best known local graffiti artists, Pasta Oner.

Photo: archive of Pasta OnerPhoto: archive of Pasta Oner Palác Lucerna – which seems more like a maze of corridors and underground concert venues than a palace – was finished in 1921, featuring both art nouveau and modernist design elements, which were fitting features for its time. For the past decade Lucerna has been at the center of an ownership dispute between members of the Havel family, but now it is finally getting a facelift worthy of the 21st century.

One of the things that the owners wanted to renovate were the stained glass windows in the exterior and interior of the buildings, and work began already three years ago on the ones that could be salvaged. Some windows though were beyond repair or completely destroyed, so Dagmar Havlová – the sister-in-law of the late president Václav Havel, who is now the owner of Lucerna - decided to bring back the charm of stained glass to the whole of the palác, but with a modern twist.

Palác Lucerna, photo: © City of PraguePalác Lucerna, photo: © City of Prague “We wanted to have something contemporary for these stained glass windows. And a prominent technique these days is graffiti.”

About a year ago, Mrs. Havlová and her husband Ivan approached a legend of local street art scene, the graffiti artist named Pasta Oner, with a commission to create a window with the word ‘Lucerna’ written in graffiti-type script. The street artists had to adjust his style and work not only to a very different setting, but also to a somewhat different format.

“I began with drafts in landscape, so I would get a better sense of what the lettering will look like, because in graffiti, you have to really do many sketches when you’re coming up with a news script. But I quickly realized that it is a very different format and eventually I worked out the division into the three syllables.”

Pasta Oner used the same color scheme that appeared on the original stained-glass window. Although this is certainly an unusual location for graffiti art, Pasta Oner is used to his work being exhibited off the streets. He is considered to be one of the first true graffiti writers in the Czech Republic, and he has had a number of exhibits in art galleries here and abroad in the past decade. Nevertheless, even he was not sure how his latest work would be perceived.

Photo: Czech TelevisionPhoto: Czech Television “My first reaction to getting the commission was that it will be another controversial work, and I was a bit worried about what the reactions would be like, but from what I’ve heard so far, people are taking it quite well.”

Dagmar Havlová’s sister created the actual window based on Pasta Oner’s design and added a border mimicking the original design by the Staněk and Šebek studio from the 1920’s. The unique street art stained glass window is located on the stairwell leading up to the Lucerna Café.

16-10-2013