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Prague Street Art Exhibit Puts a Modern Spin on What's Museum Worthy

I’ve been coming to Prague almost every year since my father moved here 15 years ago. I’ve seen my fair share of art exhibits, and “Stuck on the City” has proven to be one of my favorites. Bringing street art to Prague and contrasting this with Prague’s old city makes for an intriguing exhibit.

Prague claims, like many cities, to be in the heart of Europe. Whether or not Prague is the heart of Europe is open for discussion, but the fact that Prague is a city steeped in history well-known for its art scene is not under question.

The exhibit is Prague’s first representative graffiti and street art show with nearly 25 artists from around the world.

As the exhibit flyer says, they are united by “the city,” which is “their prime source of inspiration, their studio, canvas, and exhibition venue at one time.”

In an interview with Blanka Cermakova one of the co-organizers of the “Stuck on the City,” she said the graffiti and street art scene in the Czech Republic has become increasingly “popular and visible.” The exhibit took a small group of people almost a year to prepare.

As Cermakova said, “We wanted to bring the best from the best and to show different attitudes and nationalities.” Initially, the idea was also to incorporate graffiti history as well, but due to high insurance costs they were not able to include this aspect in the exhibit.

In an interview with European-raised Brooklyn-based brothers How and Nosm whose artwork was featured in the exhibit, they said, the city of Prague, “has to reinvent itself over and over to stay modern and competitive with other large metropoles so it is quite natural to venture into newer art movements like graffiti and street art.”  

How and Nosm’s installation took four days to paint, with another two days installing objects and building sculptures. As How and Nosm said, “The viewer should find himself within a world created by the artists and engage in a thought process inspired by what he sees.”

They see the exhibit as evidence of what has been going on around the globe for more then 40 years – painting walls. In contrast to other exhibits, "Stuck on the City" included graffiti and street art.  As the brothers said, “Adding conceptual artists and video installations to this group shows not only the development of this young art form but also the creative growth the artists themselves undergo with time.” 

When asked about bringing street art into the gallery space, How and Nosm said that “An artist shouldn't worry about his actions as long he knows that they are done with honesty and with the goal to reach creative and personal happiness.” Adding that the monetary gain from gallery work, “should support the artist's freedom to continue working indoors and outdoors."

It is also important to bring this art movement into a gallery and museum environment in order to document it properly, it is now an integral part of society and should have its respectful place in history.

As How and Nosm say of street art in Prague: “Older graffiti writers have evolved artistically and are now respected contemporary artists, which is so well documented in this exhibition.”

“Stuck on the City” is unique, not only because of the subject matter, but also because the artists were allowed to paint directly on the walls, because the space will be redone following the exhibit. As Cermakova said, “The difference is in the ephemerality, what was created for the show will be destroyed after the last exhibiting day, as happens on the street, nothing will survive. Everything was prepared few day in the gallery space so it was like a workshop of a big crew on one spot.”

Cermakova said that the reaction from the public has been positive overall, though she says journalists are still asking if this kind of art should be in gallery spaces.

With around 250 people visiting per day the gallery expects to see around 25,000 visitors overall.

City Gallery Prague, Municipal Library, 2nd floor, Mariánské square 1, Prague 1
Exhbition hours: October 10, 2012 - January 13, 2013. Tue - Sun 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

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