A friendly introduction to contemporary art is one way to describe Dvorak sec; an Old Town art gallery who turns one year old this month.
“Contemporary art is still growing here, people are still focused on the classics,” said Jessica Martinaitis, the gallery´s art consultant. “One of the aims of the gallery is to make contemporary art accessible.”
Founded by two art fanatics, Olga Dvorak and Petr Sec; the gallery is simply “dedicated to exhibiting the work of ambitious contemporary artists at all levels of their careers and development.” Sec is a long time art collector, while Dvorak made her name as founder of Sculpture Grande. This annual outdoor exhibition displayed contemporary art projects throughout the city.
The gallery´s large but minimalist space is a blank canvas for a variety of art projects and installations. Huge windows flood the front room with light; walls are basic white and the floor is smooth concrete. Spotlights are the only decoration, besides the artwork on display. The ground floor is dedicated to their current exhibition, while downstairs is the private collection of international and Czech artists. Towering stacks of plates and bowls, sculptures and large scale colorful art are only representative of the mediums for sale. There´s even a rooftop terrace, complete with a rotating sculpture exhibit, open in appropriate weather.
“The focus has been on emerging, young, contemporary and engaging artists,” said Martinaitis. “We want to continue to grow the program to include established artists plus focus on emerging ones.”
Their current exhibition, running until April 9, is the third cycle of their New York exhibition program. Martinaitis said the program features artists from or somehow connected with New York.
“There will be ten in total over the next two years, but not chronologically because we want to keep in touch with Czech art and its expansion,” she added. “It (Czech art) is overlooked a bit in the international art community.”
Martinaitis said other plans for their second year are to cooperate with New York artists and curators to bring innovative projects to Prague as well as to bring a “feel of New York-style exhibition to the city.” Dvorak sec is also planning to participate in international art fairs to bring Czech artists abroad.
On right now is Michael Najjar | bionic angel, an exhibition Martinaitis believes “is the most provocative exhibit we´ve had since we opened.”
Najjar is a new media artist with a strange range of interests which include genetics, robotics, nanotechnology and how these developments affect human evolution. He spends about two or three years researching topics before embarking on a new project. His other inspirations? Ancient Greece and the Italian Renaissance.
“It´s a type of hybrid photography, digitally created elements; it´s obvious, but there´s an element of realism as well,” said Martinaitis. “His work is so provocative, it blows my mind sometimes; there´s so much going on.”
The sublime brain of sherin + michael looks like a mess of string plopped down onto the canvas. In reality, Najjiar mapped two people´s brains and developed an algorithm that transformed the numbers into a picture. The artist also predicts that soon you won´t need a man and a woman to procreate; it´ll be done through self-regeneration. There are two pieces; one featuring a replica of a man, the other a woman, that demonstrates this point.
The pieces are large and stark, meaning they fit well with the austere backdrop of the gallery. About half are set into large white frames. Look closely at the frame´s motifs; they are lotus flowers and brain cells.
A variety of “life” topics are tackled by Najjiar; including organ donation. Spare room is the artist´s vision of what might happen if people started cloning themselves in case they needed a new heart or kidney later in life. The same body is suspended by thread, over and over and extending back into the photo as far as the eye can see. The most chilling piece though must be cryostat hssv 6-7. It merely shows what looks like three chemical or some other type of large vats. In reality they are cryogenic vessels; and the most disturbing part is, although you can´t see them, there are actually people frozen inside.
“The gallery space is not only to bring the international art world to Prague but also help the world to discover Czech artists and help the Czech public discover international artists.”