Et Cetera shows panorama of Czech art
Eleven artists under 40 submitted works via Facebook
Posted: September 25, 2013
The only woman in the show, Hana Babak creates textures that are part painting and part sculpture.
By Morgan Childs
For the Post
Where: The Italian Cultural Institute Prague, Šporkova 14 Prague 1-Malá Strana
When: Mon.-Thurs. 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. 2-6 p.m.; Friday 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Ends Sept. 30.
No common thread runs through Et Cetera, Eleutheria Foundation's exhibition now in its final week at the Italian Institute of Culture. There is no shared medium, no unifying political message, no common theme. That is, perhaps, precisely the point. The exhibition functions, in the words of curator Genny Di Bert, as a "panorama of art today in the Czech Republic," now nearly 25 years after the fall of communism.
Only one commonality unites the artists featured in the Eleutheria Foundation's exhibition: their youth. Each of the 11 artists is under the age of 40, young enough to have established his or her career after the end of Czechoslovakia's communist rule, and each has lived in the Czech Republic for a period of at least eight years. Apropos of the exhibition's ostensible politics, Di Bert and several colleagues selected the artists democratically: via an open call for portfolios on Facebook.
Of the 11 young artists featured in the exhibition, all but two are Czech-born men. A notable exception is Hana Babak, who creates texture on canvas with acrylic sealant and mounting foam in an intersection, as the artist herself describes the work, of painting and sculpture. Babak's jewel tones and the pieces' acrylic scoops and undulations are visually compelling and immediately pleasing.
Also among the highlights of the exhibition are Jakub Matuška's paintings, which draw inspiration from graffiti and street art. Matuška, once known exclusively by the alias Masker, got his own start as a graffiti artist, and the paintings featured in Et Cetera borrow the stenciling and spray-can colors of public art. But the collage effect of Matuška's work and the grim imagery the artist employs betray the patient, painstaking effort of an artist who has moved increasingly off of the streets and into galleries.
Founded in 2008 by a collective of Italians living in Prague, the Eleutheria Foundation aims to promote knowledge and appreciation of the artistic heritage of under-studied historical periods. Gorgeously displayed in the Italian Cultural Institute's baroque chapel, the exhibition highlights the work of emerging artists alongside that of well-established ones. But Eleutheria is as unlikely to speak for these 11 artists as their artworks are to deliver a unified message. We are after the -isms, Di Bert says. "We are after everything."
Matuška's pieces, along with those of newcomer Matěj Rejl, stand out in this collection for their overt political implications. If the other pieces on view grapple with public concerns, they do so subtly, quietly.
"You can see the work of each artist and imagine what he thinks about life," Di Bert says about the exhibition. Perhaps it's telling of the nation or the time in which each one of these 11 artists have worked that their thoughts are so disparate - and often so private.
Morgan Childs can be reached at email@example.com
Tags: Eleutheria Foundation, Italian Cultural Institute, young artists.