The Czech Photo Gallery at Prague’s Újezd this week launched the first in a series of “Best of” exhibitions beginning with the Nude. Curators for the opening show chose work by five well-known photographers, the late Taras Kuščynskyj, Jan Saudek, Robert Vano, Pavel Brunclík and Antonín Tesař. The nudes range from lyrical and romantic, to erotic and homoerotic, and relatively brutal and decadent.
An exhibition spanning two south Bohemian and two Austrian towns is just about to get underway, with various religious and industrial venues hosting works that point to the shared roots on both sides of the border. As part of the extensive project, a number of historical buildings have been painstakingly renovated and will be open to the public for the first time.
A one-of-a-kind instrument called raketon made its first public appearance three years ago in a museum exhibit, but this week it had its debut in a contemporary classical music concert, together with Prague’s Berg Orchestra. I had a chance to speak to Raketon’s inventor Michal Cimala and to composer Jakub Rataj who mastered this simple and elegant instrument and wrote the first orchestral piece that includes it. Both of them perform on the raketon as well by plucking, striking and touching its two strings with bows, mallets and even milk
Dan Bárta has performed with a host of Czech bands over the years, including the rock groups Alice and J.A.R., and Sexy Dancers, who were more in the funk field, while he has also appeared in musicals. But this programme mainly concentrates on the singer’s jazzy “solo” work over the last 13 years with Illustratosphere and the Robert Balzar Trio.
Probably the first generation of Vietnamese who have grown up in the Czech Republic is now coming of age. Although students and immigrants from Vietnam have been coming to this country since the 1970’s, the face and lifestyle of the Vietnamese minority is changing, with the younger generation helping to build a cultural bridge. A Prague studio called Družina is hosting a month-long series of events entitled “Czech Vietnam” that tries to bridge the gap between Czechs and their Vietnamese neighbours.
Glen Emery has been in Prague since the early 1990s and today owns the lively and cosmopolitan bar Bukowski’s in Žižkov. But the Canadian, a seasoned raconteur, started out in the city with Jo’s Bar, just off the main square in Malá Strana, or the Lesser Quarter. In this edition of My Prague, Emery takes us on a short tour of the historic area, which lies below Prague Castle on the left bank of the River Vltava.
In this week’s Arts I talk to Jitka Hanušová of Art for People, collaborating on an upcoming exhibition at the GASK Gallery in Kutná Hora, central Bohemia. The show, entitled “Venice - the Eternal Dream”, opens next week, featuring work by Italian photographer Maria Pia Severi and Venetian Carnevale masks from the traditional Pietro Longhi atelier.
Wednesday sees the launch of the 23rd Prague Writers’ Festival, whose highlights will include appearances by one of the most important guests the event has ever brought to the Czech capital: the Noble Prize-winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk. However, problems surrounding funding mean that this year’s festival will be the shortest to date.
Recent years have seen a renewed interest in the work of great Baroque composer Jan Dismas Zelenka – in his day admired by contemporaries like Johann Sebastian Bach. His work was completely forgotten after his death, only rediscovered 150 years later by the Romantic-period composer Bedřich Smetana. Slowly, knowledge of Zelenka’s work emerged. Even now there is plenty to be discovered: Prague’s Ensemble Inégal recently performed Zelenka’s forgotten Easter Mass for the very first time.
This week’s Sunday Music Show is devoted to one of the country’s most prominent jazz artists –flutist Jiří Stivín. The 68-year-old musician, who is reputed to be able to play on a blade of grass, says the feel for jazz is something you are born with and some of the best renditions come from children who are as yet unspoiled by the constraints of a music education.