An exhibition of works by Robert Horvitz opened in Prague's Jewish Museum

An exhibition of an American artist Robert Horvitz opened last week in Prague's Jewish museum. It is conceived as the first show within a whole cycle of exhibitions in Prague featuring Jewish artists from various countries.

Robert Horvitz is one of those artists, who lay the main stress on the very process of creating a piece of art. He only uses a pen and paper and has been using that simple technique for many years. Yet, his drawings are full of life and motion. Mr. Horvitz is not only an artist, but also an art theoretician, magazine editor and teacher. He started exhibiting back in 1971, and this is his fifth exhibition in the Czech Republic. I asked him first why it was called Essence?

"Why? I wanted to show drawings that are very simple, very reductive, very focussed on a single idea. I can say why: I have gone through periods where my works have been much more festive, more crowded, more playful and busy, but maybe it's just a mood now of myself and other people that I wanted to do something that is was a little more serious."

The curator of the exhibition, Misa Hajkova told Radio Prague that she intended to organize a whole series of exhibitions presenting Jewish artists in order to find out if they create a special art, something which is particular to Jewish culture. But Mr. Horvitz does not feel that he's special when compared to other artists:

"The fact is I've never thought about being a Jewish artist until Misa asked me to do this show in her gallery. I'm not religious but the fact is my parents did raise me in the Jewish tradition and I was quite affected by the injunction against representation in art which is typical of Jewish tradition. It happens to be typical of modern abstract art as well, and I think of myself in that context rather than specifically Jewish art, but those two traditions really come together in this century, so I don't object to the label because I cannot deny it, I really was influenced by this tradition, the religious as well as the secular, even though I'm not religious myself."

Since 1992 Mr. Horvitz has lived in the Czech Republic and at present he teaches history of art and gives internet courses at the University of New York in Prague. So what led him to move to the Czech capital?

"I must tell you I was asked this question when I had my first exhibition here in 1999, and I can only quote what I said then - I fell in love with the city. I was here at a business trip and it was the first place I had ever been in my life. I really felt like I was in one of my drawings, as Prague has this kind of elegance and density of detail, I don't know what you think of these drawings but I felt that I was at home. Just because this environment that I've tried to create in my drawings exists in architecture in this city."