With the winter weather approaching, we want to stay indoors. Galleries are an ideal way to be inside and discover something new and maybe thought-provoking.
But what if you’ve been to the main art galleries? Fortunately, Prague has quite a number of small galleries and exhibition spaces. While some are private and others supported by grants, all the galleries here have a personal touch from the people involved. They say something about the art as much as display it.
The Old Town
At Retězová 7, you’ll find the Václav Havel Library, which has its own gallery – Montmarte – on the first floor. On the same floor, and along the balcony which encircles the courtyard, you will also find Gambit Gallery. The gallery moved to this space two years ago, though Gambit has been around since 1990.
The gallery’s owner, Iva Nesvadbová, said her aim was to get people to bring art into their lives. To this end, she even has an exhibition done up like a living room. Apart from Gambit, Nesvadbová is involved in organizing the International Contemporary Art Fair and Prague Photo.
A couple of blocks away, at Jilská 14, is Galerie u Prstenů (website in Czech). The gallery is actually located on the ground floor and basement of the home of Stanislav and Marie Holý. The exhibits at Galerie u Prstenů follow a thematic cycle, which may last a few months. Currently, the gallery is featuring its ‘colorful season’. Shows which have been part of this season include the striking abstract work of Václav Malina and the current expressionistic work of Jan Bačkovský.
Scattered from Vinohrady through to New Town you’ll find a number of small galleries, though some may require more searching than others. Galerie 35m2 gets its name from its size. The gallery is located behind Café Pavlač. Just go through the café and out to the courtyard. It’s on your right. This is as private an experience of art you can get in Prague.
A few blocks away, at the corner of Křízkovského and Ševcíková, is Drdova Gallery, opened by Lucie Drdová in June 2012. This clean, white ground-floor space open to the street through large windows allows the pieces to ‘speak’ on their own.
Ms. Drdová couldn’t specify a particular style she preferred, but she has sought unique works, which in her words “have a second layer of meaning.”
Heading across náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad and continuing to Perunova, you will find Budoart at number 15 on the second floor. Intimacy is a key word with this gallery. It is evident in the space – three rooms of a former early-twentieth century flat, the gallery’s tagline and the name.
“Budo evokes an intimate space,” said Tereza Buchtová Fidlerová, who runs the gallery with Barbora Klímová. The intimacy extends to the lounge, provided to sit and take in the work from young and more established artists.
Be careful. You might walk past Galerie Ferdinanda Baumanna at Štěpánská 36. It is a window gallery located on the ground floor of the passage before the steps. Matouš Medilek from the gallery said that such spaces are becoming more popular in artistic circles.
“You are bringing modern art to where people don’t expect it,” he said.
Back down toward the river in New Town you’ll find etc. Galerie – a non-commercial space. Located at street level in a former shop, this 25m2 gallery promises much more than just visual art.
“The majority of art pieces exhibited in our gallery are installations, video screenings, interactive installations, also performances,” said Markéta Vinglerová from the gallery.
Getting closer to the Vltava at Pštrossova 2 is Ars Diva Galerie a relative newcomer to the Czech art scene. Opened in September, this small, split-level gallery in a historical building. This is a cozy gallery with a focus on solo shows of contemporary artists.
A number of galleries in this area add to its charm. Two spaces are conveniently located in the wonderful functionalist building Palác Elektrických Podníků. On the ground floor, you’ll find Chemistry Gallery.
“I was looking for a space on the corner with windows,” said gallery owner Petr Hájek. “This place was ideal.” Here you can see some of the Czech Republic’s freshest artists, along with street artists, which the gallery specializes in.
Upstairs on the second floor is the decidedly smaller Galerie Labatorio, located in one of the former offices. The gallery has a wonderfully casual atmosphere. I sat myself down on the parquet to watch the then-current video installation by Tomáš Svoboda, and couldn’t have felt more at ease. But the gallery’s owners don’t restrict themselves to the indoors, and sometimes put their shows on the roof.
A little further up from here at Kamenická 22 you’ll find the private gallery Hunt Kastner Artworks. Opened in 2005 by Canadian Camille Hunt and American Katherine Kastner, the gallery has made an impression on the local scene by not just being an exhibition space but working closely with a stable of artists.
And what gets exhibited at Hunt Kastner Artworks? Ms. Hunt said, “It’s very important that the idea is strong but it’s complemented with a strong visual component.”
Also located in Holešovice at Osadní 35 is Prinz Prager. This gallery has had exhibitions by some of the country’s leading contemporary artists such as Evžen Šimera and Jiří Georg Dokoupil. It will be closed until March for renovations. In the meantime, they have an exhibition of work by Stanislav Kolíbal at the Prague Castle riding school.
Across the River
At Štefánikova 43a in Prague 5 you’ll find two galleries, both on the right side after you enter the iron gate. On the first floor is one of Prague’s newest galleries, Polansky Gallery. Run by Filip Polanský, the approach to the space is inspired by what Polanský saw in Berlin. His aim is “to present Czech art within a quality International context and bring the International art to Prague, thus co-creating a lively cosmopolitan up-to-date art scene.”
One floor above Polansky Gallery is Svit. This gallery was once on the ground floor but has been in this new space since the summer. Michal Mánek said the new space was giving them new ideas. “We are a breath of fresh air on the scene,” he said about the work they show. As with many of the galleries, there was a focus on contemporary art in different media. Film is especially well-represented. Check the link above for screenings.
Completing this triumvirate of galleries in Smíchov is Galerie Jelení. The space is located at the rear of a residential block at Drtinova 15.
One of the best ways to plan a trip is to use ArtMap. You can also find printed copies at various spaces. Choose a few of the galleries which are in walking distance and enjoy a day of exploring the pockets of creativity behind the city.
The list above is by no means complete. We’d love to hear your suggestions!