The plight of young artists

The City Gallery Prague has organised two exhibitions displaying the works of several promising young Czech artists. One of the exhibitions is currently underway at the Golden Ring House. It has the provocative name of "Young Flesh", chosen to attract the widest circle of viewers, and features artwork from 24 students. But is it realistic to expect to be able to make a living from art in today's Czech Republic? According to Michael Pechoucek, a young artist in his mid-twenties and author of the second exhibition underway at the Old Town Hall, it's the student years that are the best:

"It's much more easy to exhibit when you are studying. I studied at the Academy of Fine Art and it's an easier way how to speak to the public and after one graduates it's harder to exhibit and there is a group of artists and it's very closed and we visit each other."

And as Michael Pechoucek adds, once an artist actually manages to exhibit his work, he has to hope that it will attract an audience:

"There is a very small public that visits exhibitions. Twenty people a day is considered a success. I visited a few places in the rest of Europe and there was a different situation. Women with children and fathers visit exhibitions and it's a more natural kind of spending time than in our place where there is no big interest in this. Here there is a very small artistic group of people and everybody knows everybody and there is no competition."

And yet, it's difficult to make ends meet. Michael Pechoucek, like many other young artists, is only kept from being a 'starving artist' because he has another job that pays the bills:

"It's not so much money. I am not selling art because there is a very small public. I have a salary at a hospital and my job in the hospital is also my hobby. I am free and I can do whatever I want."

And listen to next week's Arts for a tour of the 'Young Flesh' exhibition and more from Michael Pechoucek.