AHH, Bohemian art. It can put a smile on your face with the surprises that pop up out of nowhere along the cobblestone streets. Unexpected sights that are totally out of sync from the old world scene Prague embraces. It screams for attention.
Old world busts, frescoes, oil paintings, works of masters that adorn the walls and posts, interiors and exteriors of the Czech Republic's edifices, old and new. All of it very exciting, Prague art is like a portal to the city's past, with much of it salvaged from the many conflict-filled history.
But Prague is not all about the old and fine arts. There are exciting new pieces of modern art that can be caught at the turn of the road, or even above it. In fact, one will greet you at the airport as you make your way to the baggage claim area.
The hotel I stayed in, the Emblem Hotel at the Old Town Square, modernity graces its halls and walls, the look and vibe is a stark contrast to the area it stands on.
Elsewhere within the historic district of Prague are artworks, new and controversial, that have and will elicit varied reactions to anyone who chance upon it. David Cerny, a popular Czech sculptor, makes sure his art does because "provocation is the amplified reason why art exists," he was quoted saying.
Cerný, quite young being born 47, gained notoriety when he was arrested over an act of civil disobedience -- he painted a Soviet tank in pink. The tank was a national cultural monument then.
I didn't see the pink tank but I was surprised with his "Man Hanging Out" while I was wandering the streets of the city. The sculpture, hanging on his right arm with his left hand inside his pocket, is supposed to be Sigmund Freud "pondering whether to hang on, or let go of it all." It was first exhibited at the Villa Richter in the Lesser Town and can be found along Jilska Street in Stare Mesto.
It would have been a treat to see the rest of his works. But the replicas will do. I chanced upon a couple of small scale replicas in an art gallery -- the "London Booster", a red UK bus doing a push up, and the "Crawling Babies." The giant cast figures of these infants are crawling vertically on the Zizkov TV tower.
There are a couple of interesting installations in the Jewish Quarter. One is the monument of a pregnant woman made of mirrors, an interactive installation where one can get a glimpse of the woman's womb through an opening from under the sculpture (call it the vagina, if you must). The other is the monument to Franz Kafka by the sculptor Jaroslav Ro´na, a bronze sculpture of a man on the shoulders of a bigger, headless man.
There is this statue of a naked boy standing at in front of the Supreme Burgrave's House, aka the Toy Museum, in the Prague Castle. You might wonder why its penis is still glistening in copper while the rest of the body's patina has aged. Well, you're supposed to rub his penis for luck. No, I didn't get to rub it.
There are several more modern art pieces, bizarre to a few, around Prague that would be worth checking out, Cerna's works actually -- the Peeing Men at the Kafka Museum grounds; the permanent installation at the Futura Gallery where a video of two politicians can be viewed through an ass (you have to stick your head in though); and, the Svaty Vaclav sculpture at the Lucerna Palace's central atrium dead, upside down horse is ridden by St. Wenceslas. For these and more, I will have to head back to Prague. Soon.
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