See Prague through the eyes of an acclaimed children’s book illustrator this autumn at DOX

See Prague through the eyes of an acclaimed children’s book illustrator this autumn at DOX

Prague’s DOX Centre for contemporary art opens its autumn season today with an extensive exhibition devoted to world-renowned artist, illustrator, and author of children’s books Peter Sís.

The exhibition “On Flying and Other Dreams” features illustrations from five of Sís’s acclaimed books in which flying and dreaming are linked with the theme of “inner” and “outer” freedom.

A number of the books are autobiographical stories, set in Prague the city of author’s childhood. Among them The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain which offers insight into life behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.

(c) Petr Sís from the book The Wall Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

Of the book, late president Václav Havel once said: “It should be required compulsory reading for all those who take their freedom for granted.”

Visitors may also recognize Prague in scenes from Three Golden Keys in which the author wanders through its labyrinth of ancient and crooked streets, guided by a black cat. Sís titles Robinson and The Pilot and the Little Prince also feature in this large-scale exhibit of illustrations from the author’s books.



(c) Petr Sís from the book Three Golden Keys

The part of the exhibition dedicated to Sís’s life includes short videos from a new documentary film, scheduled to debut in 2020 entitled “The Dreams of Stray Cats.” It was directed by the author’s brother David Sís. 

The exhibition includes the notebooks Sís makes for every book project of which he says, “There is always 90 percent more than would fit in a book.”

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Author photo courtesy of Jan Slavik

The exhibition also presents a series of works entitled “Diaries” (1998), a collection of detailed collages made from travel documents, receipts, postcards, snapshots, and drawings that were hidden in his childhood home in Prague for more than 21 years.

According to Sís, the collage series captures “mysterious notions about unreachable places from the time before the internet, when everything was possible.”

(c) Petr Sís from the book The Pilot and the Little Prince

Another highlight of the exhibit is a large tapestry on loan from the Dagmar and Václav Havel Foundation, VIZE 97, created by Sís as part of an Amnesty International project honoring world leaders who fought for for human rights.

A tapestry dedicated to Havel was unveiled in 2012 at Prague’s Václav Havel Airport.

The author says the inclusion of this important piece in the exhibit, “Symbolically embodies the exhibition’s message that’s valid on the thirtieth anniversary of the Velvet Revolution: that freedom is a fundamental human right and a value that must not be taken for granted.”

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Tapestry photo by Jan Slavik

Exclusively for the DOX exhibition, the artist has painted a wall mural depicting the transformation of the poet Attar into a hoopoe, a scene that readers might know from his book The Conference of the Birds.

“This was a completely new experience for me, to draw in such a scale and moreover on a wall. I am very glad that I can usher visitors into the exposition and have truly personal contact with this generous exhibition,” says Sís.

(c) Petr Sís from the book The Conference of the Birds

Peter Sís was born in 1949 in Brno and grew up in Prague. He studied painting and filmmaking at the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague and the Royal College of Art in London.

He has received numerous awards for his work including the The New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year award eight times and the Hans Christian Andersen Award for his lifetime work.

(c) Petr Sís from the book Three Golden Keys

Sís has written 26 books, illustrated 60 books, and has made almost 30 animated films. In addition, he has designed posters, including the film poster for the 1984 Oscar-award-winning film Amadeus, by Czech director Milos Forman, and a mosaic mural for the New York City subway.

The exhibition will be supplemented by an accompanying program of commented tours with theater events, screenings, and family art workshops. For a detailed line up of events, visit www.dox.cz.

The exhibit runs through January 20, 2020.

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Katrina Modrá

A long-time resident of Prague, Katrina Modrá has covered Czech culture, lifestyles, and news for both local and international publications for 15+ years.

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