Flight and Exile in Art exhibition to open at Prague Castle

Refugees from India, photo: CTK

June 20th is the United Nations' World Refugee Day, and this year is the third time the day has been marked. To draw attention to the plight of the millions of refugees around the world, an exhibition of painting and sculpture - concentrating on themes of flight and exile - is due to open in mid-July in the Imperial Stables at Prague Castle. Alena Skodova has the details:

Refugees from India, photo: CTK
The idea of holding an exhibition on how the theme of people fleeing their native countries has been reflected in world culture originated with the Czech branch of the United Nations' High Commissioner for Refugees, specifically the director of the Czech office, Jean-Claude Concolato.

"I have worked for 22 years in the service of refugees, and I was always struck by the fact that we are, it seems, really perceived how important this theme of flight and exile was in our imagination, and have been in the whole history of human beings, and how importantly it was reflected in various arts. Whether literature - Homer, Ulysses, or Virgil - the Aeneid, the flight of Aeneid from Troy in flames etc. These poems of few centuries before our time. So the theme was there, dispersed even in the Medieval literature - Dante, the Hell, inferno - so it's a little bit everywhere and it's strongly present in painting or visual arts. And through my work, I could - so to speak - give life to these artistic elements. It was not something detached from the reality, it was something more real than reality."

Ivona Raimanova does not work at the UN but as an artist she was chosen to curate the exhibition:

"The initial idea was given by Jean-Claude Concolato, and that was just an idea. And I had to make research if this idea can be realized, can really work, and so I went through many books and information about artists and collections and was searching for that theme. I gathered around 280 works, and then we made a narrow selection for the exhibition."

Mrs. Raimanova has finally chosen 60 pieces of art by both Czech and foreign artists, starting with the Renaissance period and ending in the 1990s. The exhibition will be presented in an unusual manner - the whole space will imitate a railway station with all its typical sounds, which is to conjure up the atmosphere of travel. All the paintings will be complemented with photos featuring similar themes as depicted on the pictures, but from a different period and different place. The artworks have been borrowed from renowned galleries in the Czech Republic and Europe.