Murals project brings top artists to Brno’s “Bronx”

Mural by Eva Koťátková and Jan Brož, photo: ČTK/Monika Hlaváčová

Regarded by many outsiders as a Romany ghetto, Brno’s Zábrdovice district is commonly referred to by the nickname “Bronx”. Now a new project entitled Městská galerie (Municipal Gallery) is brightening up the area with huge murals by leading Czech artists, such as František Skála and Eva Koťátková. The man behind it is writer and publisher Martin Reiner, who has an apartment there.

“Bronx is quite a small part of the city. It used to be – maybe it still is – a so-called socially excluded locality.

“It has its own strong and partly moving history. There were Germans and Jews living there and they all disappeared.

František Skála,  photo: ČTK/Monika Hlaváčová

“In the 1980s and 1990s it was a Romany ghetto, mostly.

“Now a lot of things are changing in the locality, and getting better.

“Young people are moving there, couples starting families – it is rapidly changing now.”

Where did the idea of doing these murals come from?

“I would say the idea of murals is neither new nor very original – there are tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of them around the world.

“Yet it is not very common in this country.

“I wanted to show a more beautiful face [laughs] of Bronx, of this part of the city.

“And also I wanted to add a little bit to the classic idea of murals.

“That’s why I didn’t contact street artists but asked leading Czech painters to give us some paintings, some drafts, and that’s what we are doing now.

“We are trying to realise their ideas.”

Martin Reiner,  František Skála,  photo: ČTK/Monika Hlaváčová

What has been the response of local people to this art?

“If you take the people from your social bubble, of course the response has been very warm and welcoming of the project.

“I think that if you would ask some common people, or people living in Bronx, you could get a slightly different response, like, Is this really what Bronx, or this part of Brno, needs first?

“And it’s a regular question – it’s right.

“But we are just trying to do this stuff.”

How many are there already? And how many more are you planning?

“We have completed four paintings, four realisations.

“Right now we’ve had to stop it because of the weather.

“But there is a plan to go on in the springtime and we actually have prepared four or five other paintings – and now we have to wait for the weather.

“And of course we will need to collect some money. That’s we founded a small association called New Bronx.

“Yes, we are looking forward to the springtime [laughs].”