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A Masterpiece: The Slav Epic

March 14th, 2013 | Posted by Karolinad in Karolina | Lifestyle | Us | What's Happening Prague - (Comments Off)

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Although there has been much controversy around Alfons Mucha’s Slav Epic relocation from Moravský Krumlov to Prague, since May 10th, 2012 twenty large-scale canvases (up to six metres tall and eight metres wide) are on display at Veletržní Palác (Národní Galerie) until the very last day of 2013.

I finally had the chance to visit the exhibition, which has been on my “to do list” since the opening day, and it truly was a unique experience.  I have loved Mucha since I can remember.  I am intrigued by his masterful craftsmanship, his organic designs and the well-known mystical depictions of his muses.  Mucha is primarily known for his poster illustrations, advertisements and art-nouveau designs, but his fine art paintings and drawings are supreme, especially when seen in person.

When you walk into the large gallery at Veletržní Palác, where the Slav Epic canvases are exhibited, the darkness is accompanied by a soft illumination of each canvas.  Although I am sure the lighting, along with the de-humidifier buzz that can be heard all around, has to do with the strict preservation guidelines, it adds a unique ambiance in the gallery.

Upon entry, you are greeted by Mucha himself in a short silent film that is looped and projected on a temporary wall divider.  The individual paintings are much larger than expected and this, along with the dynamic composition and characters in each painting, keeps you absorbed in the subject matter as you walk from one canvas to another. Whether you are on a battle field, celebrating the history of the Slavs, or a devout believer at Mont Athos, by the end of the exhibition you begin understanding why Mucha felt that the Slav Epic was his final fine art masterpiece.

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The Apotheosis of the Slavs, Slavs for Humanity – 1926

A Slavic nationalist, Mucha wanted to depict the history of the Slavs since he was a young man. Towards the end of his working career, he did just that over the course of about 18 years in 20 of his monumental canvases.  By depicting a common history of the Slavs, the goal was to unite all Slavs and encourage them to work together in the future for all humanity.  In 1928, on the 10th Anniversary of the Czechoslovak independence, Alfons Mucha and Charles Richard Crane, a wealthy American businessman who sponsored the works, unveiled the Slav Epic to the city of Prague as a gift to his nation.

The exhibition ends (as does the series) with one of my favorite pieces, The Apotheosis of the Slavs, Slavs for Humanity – 1926, which depicts the overall victory of the Slavs by getting their lands back in 1918, after gaining independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Mucha strives to incorporate important periods of Slav History in this painting by dividing them in four different colors leading up to the ultimate victory in the center.  The blue at the bottom right represents the early history of Slavs, the red in the top left stands for the blood-shed in the Hussite Wars during the Middle Ages. The darker band below signifies the enemy continuously attacking the Slavic tribes, and the yellow represents Czech and Slovak soldiers returning from WWI and the eminent fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  The center victorious figure represents the new young independent nation, protected by Christ.

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A visitor looking at: Introduction of the Slavonic Liturgy in Great Moravia, 1912

I must agree with Mucha, The Slav Epic is his fine art masterpiece that has inspired many and hopefully still does today; it certainly inspired me.  I encourage you to go and visit this exhibition while it’s still in Prague and on display, as beyond that who knows where the future home of the Slav Epics will be.  Back in Mrovaský Krumlov where it has been for the past 45 years?  Prague’s main train station by 2014 as planned by the Mucha Foundation?  Well, the permanent home of the Slav Epic is still yet to be determined and who knows when the 20 canvases will be displayed all together in the near future.

Veletržní Palác is opened daily from 10.00 to 18.00, except for Mondays.

 

Ticket prices for Full Gallery access:

-Standard 240 Kč

-Discounted 120 Kč

  • Children from 6 - 15 years
  • Seniors over 65 years
  • Students (ISIC, IYTC, EURO 26, ITIC)

Ticket Proces for Slav Epics Gallery access only:

-Standard 180 Kč

-Discounted 144 Kč

  • Holders of Opencard
  • Members

-Discounted 90 Kč

  • Children from 6 - 15 years
  • Seniors over 65 years
  • Students (ISIC, IYTC, EURO 26, ITIC)

-Discounted 20 Kč

  • School Group price per student

-Free

  • Children up to 6 years
  • Cardholders: ZTP a ZTP/P

More info on: Národní Galerie

farmersmarketIt’s that time of year again, when fresh farmer produce is making its way to Prague and other cities across the Czech Republic.  Since 2009, when the Farmers Market craze saw its beginnings (after many years of hibernation), the demand for fresh home-grown produce sky rocketed.  We are finally seeing hypermarket profits dwindle and specialized stores such as bakeries and butcher shops making a come-back. People are simply demanding quality and price is not the only driver when making purchasing decisions anymore.   

The following are the main Farmers’ Markets in and around Prague on a daily basis.  Some have already started, while others have yet to make a debut in 2013.  Check out each individual links to get a better understanding about the vendors and focus of each market:

Mondays 

Tuesdays  

Wednesdays

Thursdays

  • Trziste Holesovice, P7 (ongoing) Mon-Sat, 8.00-16.00
  • Prosek,  P9 (starting 26.2) Tue & Thu, 8.00-15.00
  • Tylak, P2-  (starting 19.3) Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, 9.00-16.00

Fridays

Saturdays

I personally attend the Prague 6 Farmers’ Market (Kulatak) which has a large sortiment of just about everything.  My personal treat is getting the [excellent] morning coffee, before my shopping begins and I end my shopping run with fresh flowers ;)

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Happy shopping!

Check out our archived article from 2011 that also covers this topic.

This post was written by Guiri Guest writer: Meghan Modafferi.  Meghan is from North Carolina, USA. She is currently living in Prague and working as an English teacher. In her free time, she’s a freelance writer who’s particularly interested in politics, performances, and personalities. 

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A Stage Review, and an Expat’s Impression of Czech Humor

One of my favorite things about the Czechs is their sense of humor. I’m usually against overgeneralizations, but I’m struck by how much the Czechs truly seem to have a cultural sense of humor that permeates to the individual level. It’s difficult to explain in theory; it’s much better seen onstage.

Recently I went to see The Builders at Švandovo Divadlo, a Czech theater that projects English subtitles onto the wall above the stage. The play follows an attractive young couple as their house is renovated. Their live-in builders are slow, incompetent, and ultimately swindlers. Both halves of the couple, as well as several of the builders, repeatedly fall out of the house upon exit, or into it upon entrance. Throughout the play, the missing porch steps are promised and never delivered, providing a constant reminder of work left undone.

The head builder reprises, “It’s too complicated for laymen to understand…” as his pre-chorus for demanding more money and evading explanation or responsibility. The wife placates her angry husband, dreaming with increasing desperation about the beauty their house will eventually embody.

As in a Shakespearean comedy, every problem quickly intensifies from inconvenience to exasperation. The shingles hit the proverbial fan when the husband accidentally pushes a female builder down the indoor staircase, where she promptly dies. Terrified (as this is only his first murder, and practice has not yet made perfect), the husband shakily approaches his wife, who helps him hide the body in their cellar.

Gradually, the theory and practice of murder become more natural to the young couple as they off every last builder. The weapons become increasingly extreme and comical. They started off innocently enough, with no gore or flamboyance from a fall down the stairs. The climax, though, is all the drama of a microwave on a head, plugged into a wall, with the electrical chord strummed like an electric guitar.

Sitting in the audience I was, to my knowledge, the only English native present. Through the wonders of live theater subtitles, I was able to read every line in English, and laugh along with the audience of black-humored Czechs. Granted occasionally, my reading speed or the speed of the projections caused me to laugh ten seconds early or late, but for the most part, I felt like one of the group. The play was a joy, but to be able to participate in the culture was invaluable.

I’m an English teacher for adult professionals. On more than one occasion, from more than one student, I’ve heard horror stories about their home renovations. Sitting in the audience of the theater, I imagined each of my students watching this play and personally relating to the ineptitude of the builders. And that’s what I mean when I say I got the opportunity to “participate in the culture.” It would seem that this play has quite a strong grounding in reality, murders notwithstanding. And this is my perception of the Czech sense of humor. Take a humdrum and pervasive annoyance, expose the absurdity, add the intensity of the darkest thoughts that you’d never say out loud, and stir well.

*I should note that in its original form, The Builders is a Danish play. Still, it was translated to the Czech language, performed by immensely talented Czech actors, and enjoyed by a Czech audience- making it a thoroughly Czech experience. As for the Danish sense of humor, I’ll have to take a trip to Hamlet’s hamlet and see for myself.

The Builders is running through February 2013 at Švandovo Divadlo.

9.1.2013 [sold out]

5.2.2013

23.2.2013

 Visit Svandovodivadlo.cz for more information.

Food for Thought

October 15th, 2012 | Posted by Karolinad in Food and Restaurants | Karolina | What's Happening Prague - (Comments Off)
If you are a food lover, want to know where to get the best produce in Prague and get your hands on great recipes, check out The Prague Basket.  This clever blog is written by three food enthusiasts who seek the best quality produce and intend to inform you about it through their own experiences.

Performance Review: RGB

October 15th, 2012 | Posted by Karolinad in Entertainment | Guiri Guest | What's Happening Prague - (Comments Off)

The performance review was written by Guiri Guest writer: Meghan Modafferi.  Meghan is from North Carolina, USA. She is currently living in Prague and working as an English teacher. In her free time, she’s a freelance writer who’s particularly interested in politics, performances, and personalities. 

RGB

For inexperienced attendees of modern dance performances, Sebastian Belmar’s RGB may at first seem a bit dizzying. It opens with a man in tight, white underpants trying to escape from below a sheet of plastic in a candy wrapper imitation of birth. I watched his hands flail from below the clear plastic sheet, and wondered if this is just too niche-group for new patrons of the Ponec Theater to understand or enjoy.

But soon, I began to buy in as the next character entered the stage with a small, red plastic bag. His interactions with it were at once playful and strangely domineering; a stark contrast to the desperate escape of the first character from his plastic womb. From that point, I was able to begin building a narrative from clues about the characters. And I’m sure the meaning I found wasn’t “correct” in any sense of the word, but I was able to find it, and I think that’s the point. Absurdist art aims to make the audience uncomfortable because they can’t find solace in clarity of meaning. This performance exists somewhere between the security of clarity and the tension of the absurd. And that’s what makes it so special.

The two women in the cast disco and dispute with their male counterparts, and while their individual personalities are not distinguished as sharply as the men’s, they bring both more lightness, and more intensity to the piece as a whole. The men’s interactions with the women loosely mirror their interactions with the plastic pieces in the opening, which brings delightful coherence to the plot-driven mind. When all four dancers are onstage, the energy is electric. Whether their bodies are pulsing to light-hearted music and calm colors, or the sounds of chaos paired with red, the chemistry between the four is captivatingly portrayed.

 Belmar is clever and precise with color choices throughout the piece. At times, it’s difficult to even notice the color changes because it’s only right that the air should be red when the dances evoke the intensity of relational abuse. It’s only right that the world is green for disco.

The final scene holds red, fiery tension for an almost unbearably long time, as the actors switch partners and repeat dances like complicated
addictions or relationship patterns that you just can’t quit. While at first the viewer may flounder at the lack of familiarity or congruity on the stage, by this point there is something that everyone can relate to.

If you’re not a regular at the Ponec, RGB might be a step out of the comfort zone of your ordinary trip to the theater, but it’s not a step off a cliff. It’s thought provoking and visceral, inviting the viewer to fill in the unspecific storyline with his or her own.

Ponec theatre
Husitská 24a/899, 130 00, Praha 3
phone / fax:  +420 222 721 531
GSM:  +420 724 123 882
e-mail: ponec@tanecpraha.eu
Web: http://www.divadloponec.cz
Information about the performance: RGB 

 

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