Showing posts with label DOX. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DOX. Show all posts

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bravo David Černý! You Have Europe Giggling Again. This time with your Red London Double Decker Bus doing pushups!

Longtime readers of the Empty Nest Expat blog know I am a huge fan of Czech artist David Černý and his very Czech brand of irreverance and black humor. His sculpture created to see if Europe could laugh at itself, "Entropa," certainly provided entertainment for me and my Czech friends when he created it in 2009.

"Entropa" was the official art chosen by the Czech Republic to represent itself when the Czech Republic held the Presidency of the European Union. It seemed only Czechs got the humor. I loved it.  I was so grateful to have seen it myself in the flesh when I went back to Prague a second time. By then it had been moved from Brussells to DOX Contemporary Art Museum in Prague.You can read more of my posts about him here.

This time I don't see how he can fail to make the whole world smile. Look at what he has created for the London Olympics: a bright red London double decker bus doing push-ups!
How can we not smile?
Iconic bus doing iconic exercises!
No, it really does do the exercises!
Černý built in hydraulics to make it happen.

I love seeing tiny Czech Republic,
with a mere 10 million citizens
represent itself so above 'its weight class'
at the Olympic games
with their irreverant humor.
I believe Černý's bus will delight worldwide!

What do you think of David Černý's bus
named "London Boosted?"
Does it make you smile?

Is there an artist you have discovered in your travels
you think the whole world should know about?
Who is it?

Click on this wonderful Daily Mail article to see more photos of David Černý
assembling his bus and to see the video of it in action!

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Celebrating 90 Years of Artist Zenděk Sýkora

On a tip from a sophisticated, handsome young Czech at the opening of the Pod Ball: Malí Urvi II exhibit now showing at DOX Contemporary Art Museum in Prague, I went to visit an art show at the Municipal Library Gallery in Prague to discover an artist new to me.

My friend said, "Zenděk Sýkora is probably the most important Czech painter alive right now, go see his show!" So off I went. Mr. Sýkora is 90 years old and the works assembled represented a retrospective of his life's work. When someone is 90 years old and this productive and vital, it gets my respect automatically, even before I saw his work. Then I also imagined what it's like being an artist during regimes when being an artist was suspect.

Mr. Sýkora was deeply inspired by nature as an artist.  One of the most intriguing first paintings in the exhibition is a very geometric gray work of art that is his representation of still, shimmering water.  It made me think about my own visual image of still, shimmering water.  I loved the idea of someone focusing that deeply on beauty we all know and producing something that challenges one§s own images.

His work from the 1960s and 1970s seems emblematic of those decades.  I can't put my finger on why, but it does.  It's very structured and geometric.  Throughout his career, Mr. Sýkora used mathematics and geometry to express the systems and randomness of nature. If you are at all drawn to those two things, I know you'd love his work.

From those structured works, he moved onto lineal paintings. He was among the first in the world to use a computer to help him develop the random numbers necessary for much of his work. The program notes (printed in English, thank you) said, "he was captured by the expressional power of a line rising on a boundary of the connection of two original elements." I didn't relate to the mathematical components of his work, yet I still found that all of his work uplifted my spirit.

Then I came across work of his that I already know and love.  My friend Pavel had introduced me to the beauty of these murals at the Cafe Emporio (now called the Cafe Elite) last year.  I love this tile mosaic!  Apparently, it was installed in a metro station at this spot on Jindřišská Street.  Now it is a cafe.  Why there is no longer a metro station there, I don't know. But the gorgeous tile mosaics remain.  Sýkora's art looks sublime on such a large scale!  In the show there was also two other pieces I would love to see in place: a linear installation at the air traffic control facility in Prague and geometric structured pieces covering Letná ventilation shafts.

The exhibit space is magnificent, and as a librarian, I envy the Municipal Library's space.  It's fantastic and world class.  Libraries in America usually don't have that amount of square footage available to mount shows of this scope.  It not only says something about the Library, it says something about the Czech people of the 1920s for their willing investment in their own art and culture.  One small suggestion I have for future shows is to include English subtitles on the video where the artist discusses his work.  Then the whole world can discover him! For beautiful photographs of the rooms filled with art, click on my title.

So... after looking at that gorgeous art do you need a little refreshment?  If so, then come with me! I'm heading over to the Grand Orient Cafe housed in the famous House of the Black Madonna designed by the master of Czech cubist architecture.  I want to enjoy the outdoor balcony.  Spring is bursting out of every windowbox.

My friend Pavel, a former demi-soloist for the National Ballet introduced me to this cafe too.

Fresh mint tea and the wonderful, totally-worth-the-calories Czech pastry věneček.  Ooh-la-la! Did you know you could make mint tea with just the leaves of fresh mint? I didn't know it was that simple.  Now I know.  My waiter is so divine it's like a joint celebration of the city, the view, the cuppa, and the pastry. It also helps that we are united in the knowledge that on this exact day we are both in the momentary center of the known universe: Prague, where the President of the United States of America and the President of Russia are meeting. My waiter most definitely could serve the King of England, cause that's what waiters, at least fictional waiters, do in the Czech Republic.

Hope you enjoyed the break.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Gallery Crawling in Prague? Get Out the G.P.S.

Dox Museum of Contemporary Arts

There's a nice article in the New York Times today celebrating the growth of great art in Prague. It's a bit of work to find all of the good galleries since they are not all in one district. DOX, the brand new, very exciting contemporary art museum, was the first reason I had to go to Holesovice, a nice Prague neighborhood where lots of natives live. I would so love to see David Cerny's political artwork, Entropa, currently on display there.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Welcome to Capitalism!

The DOX Museum Terrace
There is a fairly new contemporary art museum called DOX in Prague that opened within the last year. The museum has excellent marketing because I saw it's inaugural exhibit advertised everywhere. Or maybe it was just the arresting nature of the exhibit title that I noticed: "Welcome to Capitalism!"

What a European idea to have an art exhibit devoted to capitalism. To an American, it's as if someone proposed an art display devoted to breathing. Up until the financial crisis, it's not something one actually thought about - capitalism. It just is. Didn't the Cold War prove that?

Alan Greenspan -
at least the main icon of capitalism is still American

What do I know? With even 82-year-old Alan Greenspan revising his lifelong assumptions about the markets, and conservative Republicans of the last administration proposing socialist bailouts of the means of production, the relevance of such an exhibit has never been greater.

"The Sediment"

'The Sediment'
by Matej Kren hit me first in the gallery. His art is composed of layers and layers of books. I loved his representation of ideas as geology. To me, it was an alternative view of a library, with humanity depositing deeper and deeper knowledge with each generation. Where are the fault lines in this sedimentary material like there are in real geology? Spots where ideas have been stopped cold, hidden, destroyed or redirected? That's happening in places without capitalism today. This exhibit was created long before the financial crisis but the crisis sure showed that capitalism has plenty of fault lines of it's own.

CEOS of Mercedes-Benz and Apple, Inc.

There are multiple artists in the exhibit but the majority of works come from Spanish artist, Jose-Marie Canos. Mr. Canos proved canny in his selection of subjects. No slouch when it comes to capitalism himself, his subjects probably represent some of the biggest global art budgets with egos to match.

Hundreds of years ago, architects used to build their masterpieces for bishops or royalty. Now they create their magic for this century's deepest pockets - global corporations. Mr. Canos' art portrays the 21st century's version of royalty: corporate titans.

Could there be a greater status symbol to a global CEO than selection as one of the pen and ink drawing in the Wall Street Journal? You could almost feel each portrait subject preening in the room, comparing who is represented among the Wall Street 100 and who is not.

I imagine these portraits go quickly on an individual basis, but there is great power to their collection in one place. In art, these symbols of capitalism are on the bottom floor of DOX where they are most accessible to everyone. In life, these are the success symbols of capitalism we see on a daily basis. Isn't that what our media holds up to society the most, the successes? Again this exhibit was created before the crisis when it was much harder to see the failures or victims of capitalism.

Mr. Canos conveys the anxiety by those who aren't necessarily the successes. If American media symbols are well represented through his Wall Street Journal 100, British media messages are enshrined in art created using the peach pages of the London Financial Times.

In the tower of the new building, Mr. Canos shows a seedier type of financial transaction, much less likely to be seen in life as in this exhibit layout. I chose not to show a photo of them here. The paintings reproduced Spanish-language advertisements for prostitutes.

Seeing these ads made me mad, because I couldn't see their relevance to the subject. Why were they in another language when everything else was English? How were these ads relevant to the exhibit?  I wanted the artist to do more of the other end of the spectrum in capitalism. The people who are capitalism's victims. If downstairs were the global CEOs, where were the people losing their homes? Or without access to opportunity? Or education? Wait a minute -- there they were. Hidden. Not glamorous. A commodity. Devalued. And likelier than not, not residing in the English-speaking world.

DOX is a beautiful contemporary art museum with a very hip gift shop and cafe. If you live in Prague and haven't been yet, I highly recommend a visit. The "Welcome to Capitalism" exhibit came right before the financial crisis hit. It will be interesting to see if the curators continue to bring in such prescient thought-provoking shows. Bravo on the inaugural show!
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