This week, heads of Czech Centres from around the world are gathered in Prague to discuss where next for their cultural institutes. Amongst them is Ladislav Pflimpfl, head of the Czech Centre in London. Just before he hopped on a plane to Prague this weekend, I stopped by his London office to ask him what Czech events he had organised this autumn in the British capital:
Moravian folk music has long and rich traditions, and many artists work with its motifs in creating their own musical style. One of them is the “Walachian Bard” Vlasta Redl. He started his career in the mid 1980s in a band that was very well received, but eventually looked ever closer to the traditional Moravian music for inspiration.
The company Modernista, which has a shop in the centre of Prague, deals in both original Czech furniture from the first half of the 20th century and replicas it has made under license. Perhaps most notably, Modernista sells and recreates Cubist pieces – including ceramics and clocks – which are unique to this part of the world. Owner Janek Jaros described the business to me when we spoke a few days ago.
The Year 1989 through the Eyes of Photographers is the title of a new exhibition that has just got underway at Prague’s Old Town Hall. It brings together around 300 photographs capturing events preceding the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia, and the drama of the Velvet Revolution itself. Daniela Mrázková of Czech Press Photo is the exhibition’s curator.
My guest in One on One today has been described as a ‘young Czech Matthew Barney’ and a ‘rising star’ on the London art scene. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art two years ago, Tereza Bušková has exhibited in some of the capital’s highest-profile spaces such as Gallery 176, and Gallery One One One. Bušková’s screen-prints and films draw heavily upon her Czech origins. In October, her project ‘The Spring Equinox’ will be exhibited in London alongside the work of compatriots Kateřina Šedá and Josef Bolf. On a recent visit back to Prague,
Those who have never been to America get their image of the continent from TV, movies, books and other media. It seems that this much has not changed since the New World was discovered and the first news from the continent reached Europe. The National Gallery in Prague has launched an exhibition called “Amerika k sežrání”, or “Savouring America” which presents the New World through 16th to 19th century European prints.
Stanley ‘Robotman’ Povoda is the father of Czech robotics. After over half a century of bringing people’s old colanders, chandeliers and vacuum cleaners to life, Stanley has just become the subject of his first retrospective in Prague’s Trafačka Gallery. Stanley (real name Marián) Povoda has been back in the Czech Republic for five years now, after spending most of his life in exile in North America. On a recent tour of his new show, Stanley told me where his passion for robots began:
Over the centuries, Prague has hosted many outstanding scientists from across Europe – among them the German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler. Kepler spent a full twelve years of his life in the Bohemian capital at the beginning of the 17th century and it was here that he carried out some of the most important observations. This week a new museum opens to the public in Prague in the actual house where the astronomer lived 400 years ago.
Sculptor Pavel Opočenský has seen many twists and turns in his life. After signing Charter 77, he left for Germany to eventually settle in New York. When he came back after the fall of communism in 1990, he got involved in an incident in which he killed a skinhead in self defence. The trial took four and a half years before he was cleared of criminal charges. In the meantime, Pavel Opočenský became a respected sculptor – but in 2003, he was sentenced to three years in jail for sex with minors.
The Platinum Collection is the title of the biggest retrospective to date by the photographer Robert Vano, who is best known for his male nudes. Vano is a Hungarian Slovak who started out as a stylist on fashion shoots when he moved to New York in the late 1960s, before eventually becoming a much respected photographer himself. At the new exhibition at the Mánes gallery in Prague, Vano – a long-time resident of the city – told me how he gradually found his own style.