|'Signifier' by Remy Dean (photograph, 2013, Prague)|
The day started with a walk through the chilled sunshine streets around the Old Town and a visit to the classy, private gallery, Dvorac Sec, showing the new Uber Ego collection from Prague’s very own ‘bad-boy’ of contemporary art, David Cerny. I think he would have had a laugh with Jake and Dinos Chapman and he had even appropriated an image of one of their skinless charred Gestapo grinners... very current! The first room of the exhibition was ‘ruled’ by a little red London bus that groaned loudly with the strain of exertion as it went through a repeated routine of press-ups and panting respites. The endless cycle of labour and effort as it strove to carry others on a daily basis…. It was funny, with a political punch-line, like much of Cerny’s post-punk-modernist oeuvre.
|Sparky thinks the Cerny-bus wants to play...|
|David Cerny's Hitchcock and Tarantino face-off|
|'Primary' play park|
|Sparky charms this bronze lady|
|Kurt Gebauer's 'Dwarf - Dog' dwarfs Sparky... it's all relative.|
Semi-permanent? There are plans to tour these huge canvasses internationally, New York, London, Paris, Tokyo… so if you possibly can, see them here in Prague where they belong. No scan or print can convey their monumental power, they have to be experienced first-hand. We had the entire gallery to ourselves, which was a luxury and a lovely opportunity to really engage at a deeper level often denied in our more popular galleries… where timed entry tickets allow us to shuffle, shoulder to shoulder, from exhibit to exhibit as if on a conveyor belt… These deeply poetic and moving works deserve more respect than that. And so do you.
After this Czech C20th saturation, we pushed on, through some urban sprawl, to a newly converted building in the middle of a huge housing estate to have a look at what is happening right now. This is the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art.
Regardless of the art on show, this is a great space, with very welcoming and well-informed staff and a relaxed atmosphere. On the second floor, there is a freely accessible research library (mainly, though not exclusively in Czech) that you are encouraged to browse.
The majority of the ground floor gallery space was given over to the exhibition titled, ‘Where is my Home?’, including a good variety of photography and graphic works. A video installation about the life of a ‘tramp’ was the one that captivated me the most - oddly moving and filled with sound philosophical propositions. After watching the short film, there was a second chamber with some portraits of those he met ‘on the road’. There was great humour and humanity.
|Volker Marz figurines (L - R: Donkey, Che, Marilyn, Joseph)|
The night breeze was refreshingly cool and the tram took us on a ‘fairground ride’ of blurred suburban streetlamps back to the golden lights of the Old Town centre… Before 'all that jazz' gets under way, there is just enough time for a meal of rustic cabbage soup followed by slow-roasted pork knuckle - served on a wooden 'sled-plate' with freshly made coleslaw, pickled vegetables, green-beans, mustard, horseradish... probably the best meal of the trip, thoroughly enjoyed in the relaxed and tasteful (literally) U Dvou Sester (Two Sisters) restaurant - when in Prague...
Then a short walk to the inconspicuous AghaRTA club …that’s jazz!