An exhibition of works by Britain’s Damien Hirst has just opened at Prague’s Rudolfinum. He is the richest living artist the world has ever seen, and perhaps best known for placing dead animals in formaldehyde and covering a human skull in diamonds. The new show is curated by Gunnar Kvaran from the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo. At its opening, I asked him what it was about Damien Hirst that made him such an art superstar.
Amanita Design is a Brno-based, award-winning game development studio whose creations have become a huge hit on the internet. Their games combine elements of the technical world with nature in a way not seen before. Their signature game, Samorost, takes you to a universe composed of rusty parts of old, derelict machines and mossy, gnarled stumps of rotting wood. In this edition of the Arts, we meet the studio’s founder Jakub Dvorský.
At least in terms of the musicians he has played with George Mraz (born Jiří Mraz in Písek, south Bohemia in 1944) may well be the most successful Czech in the history of jazz. Indeed, the list of people the acoustic bass maestro has accompanied reads like something of a Who’s Who of jazz, including Dizzie Gillespie, Stan Getz, Oscar Peterson, Chet Baker and Charles Mingus. Incredibly, George Mraz has appeared on over 1,000 albums. When the New York-based musician was in Prague recently, we discussed his beginnings in jazz, as a teenager.
Czech animator Jan Balej’s knack for pulling off unsuspected blockbusters has made him one of the most prominent figures in the animation industry in the Czech Republic. Now the winner of two Czech Lions and numerous foreign awards is turning his attention to Hans Christian Andersen, and has received a record subsidy to promote his effort.
This week’s Music Profile will introduce the Prague band Tatabojs, familiarly called “Tatáči”: they won the “best live rock band” three times, and former Education Minister Ondřej Liška has been spotted at their concerts zealously tapping his feet in time to the beat. Jan P. Muchow, an important figure on the Czech music scene, has even said that Tatabojs have the potential to fill stadiums.
Spring has come again to Prague and with it the Prague Spring Festival. For those of you not in the know, think not flowers and spring showers, but rather Mendelssohn, Mozart, and the climax of the classical music calendar in the Czech Republic. Perhaps however classical music’s simply not your thing – in that case this is the classical festival for you. In Arts this week, Christian Falvey reports on the start of the three-week Prague Spring International Music Festival.
The city of Prague has been at the forefront of classical music at least since Mozart uttered the famous words "Meine Prager verstehen mich" ("My Praguers understand me") and premiered his works here. The Czech metropolis continues to celebrate its lofty music heritage today with the annual Prague Spring festival, one of the largest and best known classical music festivals in Central Europe, which commences on Tuesday, as every year with a performance of Bedřich Smetana’s My Country.
A celebrity cast of top Czech writers and actors has taken a high profile public stand against the practices of the Czech tabloid press. Around a dozen top names have signed a petition denouncing what they describe as the publications’ dirty practices. And they have called on counterparts in the arts world to join their star boycott.
The Romany pop group Gipsy.cz are the Czech Republic’s entry in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. After Czech Television itself selected the band to represent the country in Moscow, the station’s viewers picked the song they are going to perform, Aven Romale. Gipsy.cz are currently in the Russian capital preparing for the first semi-final on Tuesday, but shortly before they left I spoke to the group’s leader Gipsy (real name Radoslav Banga). My first question: what does representing the Czech Republic at Eurovision mean to you?