January 27, 2016 - National Gallery Prague - Spring 2016 exhibitions
January 27, 2016

National Gallery Prague

(1) Helena Hladilová, Fake Lake, 2016. (2) El Hadji Sy, Coincidence en spirales, 1984. Collection Axt/Sy, Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt. Photo: Wolfgang Günzel. (3) Jiří Thýn, Two Ends of A Distance, 2016. (4) Yu Feian, Two Peonies and Two Bumblebees, 1954. Courtesy The National Gallery in Prague. (5) Joseph Kosuth, Gift, 1990.

Spring 2016 exhibitions

National Gallery Prague
Kinský Palace
Staroměstské náměstí 12
110 15 Prague
Czech Republic
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm,
Wednesday 10am–8pm

T +420 224 301 122


The National Gallery in Prague inaugurates the yearlong celebration of its 220th anniversary with the grand opening of the spring season, which includes the following exhibitions that focus on the history of the institution and emphasize the political impact of art.

Generosity. The Art of Giving
February 5–July 3, 2016

The virtue of generosity and the act of giving has been at the foundation of the noble initiative known as the National Gallery in Prague. Such spirit has continued throughout the over two-centuries-long history during which the biography of the National Gallery has been written by such outstanding individuals as Vojtěch Lanna, Vincenc Kramář and Lubor Hájek, so formative in the institution’s politics of generosity. The exhibition and its publication celebrate the Gallery’s 220th anniversary by paying tribute to the passion and devotion of those whose generous deeds shaped the Gallery’s identity and formed its constitutency. The exhibition considers the Gallery as a locus of generosity, and a site where the dynamics of giving and sharing is performed. Here, the Gallery is a gift, and a collection is perceived as collective property. Such investigation of the museum’s subjectivity claims that the history of the museums is parallel to the history of generosity.

With the artworks from the National Gallery’s collections (the Old Masters, Prints and Drawings, Asian and African Art, 19th Century, Modern and Contemporary Art) and guest appearances of works by Willem de Rooij, Pavel Büchler, Danh Vō, Joseph Kosuth, Pierre Huyghe, Edmund de Waal, Jaromir Novotný, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Klara Kristalová, Ernesto Neto, Matts Leiderstam, Martin Creed, Yoshihiro Suda, Lee Kit, Jiří Kovanda, Jim Lambie, Roman Ondák, Franz West, Prinz Gholam.

The main exhibiton: Kinský Palace. Interventions in all venues: Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia, Trade Fair Palace, Sternberg Palace, Salm Palace and Schwarzenberg Palace.

Curated by the National Gallery’s Chief Curator Adam Budak and the curatorial representatives from each collection.
Exhibition architecture by Tomáš Svoboda.

Marcus Steinweg, "Contingency, Excess, Subjectivity, Waste and Generosity“
Response by Ondřej Váša
February 3, 7pm


Ai Weiwei
Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads

February 6–August 31, 2016

Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac Heads is the first work by the acclaimed Chinese artist to be exhibited in the Czech Republic. The public space in front of the Trade Fair Palace houses twelve bronze zodiac animal heads, copies of sculptures designed for the Garden of Perfect Brightness near Beijing, which were destroyed by foreign troops in 1860 during one of the Opium Wars. A reminder of the complex relationship between art, history and politics, this installation speaks to the mission and identity of museums, a theme that informs the anniversary exhibition in the National Gallery.

Curated by Adam Budak, Michaela Pejčochová

Ai Weiwei, artist’s talk, Vaclav Havel Library
February 5, 4pm

Alison Klayman, Never Sorry (2012) with Q&A with Ai Weiwei, Studio Hrdinu
February 6, 5pm


El Hadji Sy
Painting – Performance – Politics

This retrospective of Senegalese painter, performer, and cultural activist, El Hadji Sy (1954) acts as an introduction to contemporary art in Africa. El Hadji Sy’s artworks from 1970s up until the present are confronted with the artworks of other contemporary Senegalese painters and accompanied by archival documents, posters for performances and records of workshops. Additionally, the artist leads a dialogue with the traditional artefacts from the National Gallery’s Collection of Asian and African Art. This is the National Gallery’s first exhibition to present contemporary African art and its response to cultural and political matters.

Curated by El Hadji Sy, Adam Budak, Markéta Hánová

Marine Archeology, a dance performance choreographed by El Hadji Sy
February 5, 8pm

El Hadji Sy in a conversation with Clémentine Deliss, Philippe Pirotte and Adam Budak
February 6, 11am


Jiří David

The National Gallery reenacts the installation presented in the Czech and Slovak Pavilion of the 56th La Biennale di Venezia. The work by Czech artist Jiří David (1956) draws inspiration from Apotheosis: Slavs for Humanity, a monumental painting from Alfons Mucha’s cycle of Slav Epic (1910–28). David’s black and white version of Apotheosis is an act of deconstruction, enhanced by a subtle intervention in the composition in the form of apocrypha. The installation is a stimulus for critical thinking about political, socio-cultural and philosophical issues that reference the past and the present of the world on the intersection of the global and the local.

Curated by Katarína Rusnáková


Helena Hladilová
Fake Lake

The artistic practice of Helena Hladilová (1983, Kroměříž; lives and works in Italy) is characterized by an on-going dialectical investigation into object production and performativity. Her artworks embody an intimate intersection of object, audience, event and surrounding space, through which the artist defetishizes the art object and creates an egalitarian relationship between artist/performer and spectator/participant. Artworks, while autonomous, are often created within the context of or in a response to their display, and underscore the ambiguous nature of an exhibition space and its ability to shape the presentation and experience of art. The relationship between physical space, social experience and the natural world creates a body of work that is at once ephemeral, unpredictable, and tender.


Poetry Passage#2
After having investigated poetry’s role as a "hidden resource which enables us to shift from one paradigm to another," the Poetry Passage#2 explores poetry’s ability to produce sense. It considers language as a transindividual reality which always presupposes a public exchange. For Italian philosopher and semiologist Paolo Virno, the human species, precisely because it is capable of speech, is not composed by separate individuals, but rather remains both the theatre and the audience for any linguistic performance. Thus, this Passage contributes to the National Gallery’s all embracing investigation of the politics of generosity and a construction of a collective voice. Staged on the Trade Fair Palace’s functionalist staircase, it orchestrates the photographic work of Jiří Thýn (1977, Czech Republic), the performative visual poetry of Heinrich Dunst (1955, Austria) and the cinematic consideration of the act of reading by Alejandro Cesarco (1975, Uruguay/USA). Additionally, the exhibition includes a site-specific choreography by performance group "Le gens d’Uterpan" (France), addressed towards the audience and taming the space.

Heinrich Dunst, A B out A sentenCe, performance
February 5, 7:30pm


Moving Image Department, 4th Chapter
The Rhetoric of Time, Revisited

Time and temporality of (moving) image lie in the centre of this chapter. According to the philosophers, cinema’s generous task is not just presenting images, but also surrounding them with a world. The works on view are collections of images set up in a double motion: they embrace the visitor with their temporal unfolding while emanating the world they are surrounded by. Their immersive quality generates an illusion of inhabiting an image, "living it" in present and in recollection. This exhibition demonstrates the medium of moving image as an apparatus able to speak a collective voice of and through time.

With Tomáš Svoboda (Czech Republic) and Ragnar Kjartansson (Iceland)
Featuring Josef Dabernig (Austria) and Liam Gillick (Great Britain)

Poetry Passage#2, Moving Image Department and Introducing are curated by Adam Budak.

All exhibitions are on view in the Trade Fair Palace between February 6 and May 22, 2016.

National Gallery Prague
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