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The Home team

The Home team

Posted: January 22, 2003

By Lizzy Le Quesne

Trio of artists scores a hit with new gallery

Prague's art scene has some much-needed new blood. Home Gallery, a brand-new artist-run gallery, opened last month with 200 square meters (2,152 square feet) of skylit space in the New Town and an impressively vigorous and broadminded plan.

Dreamed up, managed and curated by three young women artists, Home Gallery aims to be a new center for a network of artists and curators from the Czech Republic and across Europe. The women plan to promote the visibility and sale of work by Czech artists while educating and reaching out to both art collectors and the general public.

The three women at Home Gallery are Veronika Bromova, Veronika Drahotova and Aleksandra Vajd, all artists working in photography and new media. They say they have created this gallery to fill a specific void. Their main goal is to kick-start artists' careers at home and abroad. While art must be exhibited and purchased for artists to survive, they don't buy into the conventional wisdom that it must be commercial.

"Not enough galleries in this country act properly on behalf of the artists by reaching out to the right buyers and curators," says Bromova. "We realized that we can't just wait for others to decide to help Czech artists."

In addition to organizing exhibition exchanges of Czech artists and taking their work to Western art fairs, they want to bring influential exhibitions from elsewhere to invigorate the scene here.

The three women are well placed to tackle these worthy aims. All are respected artists in their own right and have experience exhibiting and working outside of the Czech Republic. The oldest of the three, and a well-known figure on the Czech art scene since the beginning of the 1990s, Bromova (born in 1966) was the country's representative at the Venice Biennale in 1999. Her installation Zemzoo (Earthzoo), made during a scholarship at the International Studio Program in New York, featured footage of the shadows of people standing and whispering as they waited for a giant polar bear to jump into a pool of water. Her photographs were of her own body, distorted by cellophane tape to resemble a human/animal compound figure looking into a mirror. Bromova continues to exhibit, most recently in France, Russia and Austria, and her work is in the permanent collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Moderna Museet in Stockholm and the National Gallery in Prague. Bromova now heads the new department of Photography and Digital Imagery at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague.

Born in 1975, Drahotova, a painter and photographer who works with digital imagery, graduated in Visual Communication three years ago from the Academy of Fine Arts, where she studied under Jiri David (the creator of Prague Castle's neon heart). In 1995 she accepted a scholarship at the San Francisco Art Institute. She is perhaps best known for her light installations, most notably her lighting of Prague Castle in rainbow colors in 1998.

Vajd (born in Maribor in 1971) originally trained as a veterinary doctor. She received her master's degree in photography at Prague's FAMU (Film Academy) in 2001 and the prestigious Vordemberge-Gildewart scholarship in 2002. She currently teaches a seminar on creative photography at FAMU.

For now, the gallery's program is centered on group exhibitions. The Slovenian art group Irwin has a current show of photographs, and next up is "Electrobot," a mix of Czech and foreign artists whose work involves electricity.

Asked how she feels about the combined role of artist, curator and manager, Bromova says, "We are artists first; it's just that if nobody does for us, we must do for ourselves. Of course the gallery is also a good opportunity for us to show our work, and I would be lying if I said the space did not inspire me. But we are in no hurry. We have other work to do now. Probably we will have our exhibitions there in the future. ... Actually it is very nice, after being an artist for 10 years, not to be thinking only about myself."

The Home Gallery team has plenty of work to do. It is still waiting to hear whether the gallery has been successful with several grant applications. And it must establish a solid reputation before the lease on the building expires in three years.

As prestigious Prague galleries from the 1990s (MXM, Nova Sin and others) are gradually disappearing and Manes and Galerie Vaclava Spaly switch to a for-hire-only basis, Home Gallery's ambition to help revive contemporary visual art in the Czech Republic is a welcoming and encouraging development.

Lizzy Le Quesne can be reached at features@praguepost.com

Home Gallery

Truhlarska 8, Praha 1-New Town. Open Wed.-Fri. 1-8 p.m. Sat.-Sun. 1-9 p.m. www.homegallery.cz

By Lizzy Le Quesne

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