Czech Art -- 20 years after...

Adam Hoffmeister
Libor Gronský

The Danubiana has increased its activity to present major international exhibitions. Until recently, the museum staged monographic exhibitions. However, the project focusing on the presentation of contemporary art of largely Central European countries opens a wider area for the establishment of international contacts in the visual arts. The exhibition of Austrian Art was the pilot project, followed by Hungarian Art and Russian Art.

The presentation of Czech Art is significant from several aspects. First and foremost, it provides a rare opportunity to host a major exhibition of Czech contemporary art; only a few shows were held in the last twenty years. Several exhibitions were staged at the Bratislava City Gallery, but they presented the Czech inter-war avant-garde (Czech Cubism, Josef Čapek, Czech Modernism from the Collections of the Prague City Gallery). The recent exhibition of the ‘Tvrdohlaví’ (The Stubborn) group is an exception.

The twentieth anniversary of the Velvet Revolution is an excellent opportunity to present a selection from Czech contemporary art. The Danubiana has cooperated in this project with the well-known Czech Millennium Gallery run by Xénia Hoffmeisterová, an experienced curator and artist. In cooperation with Dr. Gronský, they made a selection from Czech contemporary art, showing a representative sample of contemporary middle-aged generation. Its protagonists occupy an important place in new Czech art. The artists include, among others, Jiří Sopko, Michael Rittstein, František Skála, Vladimír Kokolia, Stefan Milkov, Boris Jirků, Michal Cihlář, Jaroslav Róna, Jasan Zoubek, Vladimír Merta. Most of them are concerned with expressive forms of figuration. In the 1980s they introduced postmodern aesthetic into Czech art and many of them have pursued post-conceptual strategies, Action Art, Performance Art and Video Art. The representatives of this generation rejected to serve ideology and explored alternatives to their own artistic language. The title of Rittstein’s picture ‘Nechci v kleci’ (I don’t Want to be in a Cage) from 1976 can be considered symbolic – it has not lost its validity.