Prague’s Lennon Wall gets new face as 30 Years of Freedom celebrations slowly get underway

Photo: ČTK/Michal Krumphanzl

John Lennon’s wall in Prague, which features a wide array of thematic street art, is a popular destination for tourists and a symbolic site of Czech opposition to the communist regime. Now its surface features a whole array of new pieces. Thanks to a special event organised during the occasion of the 30 Years of Freedom celebrations, 20 artists from a multitude of countries added their artwork carrying messages of peace.

Photo: ČTK/Michal Krumphanzl

In a small and secluded square just next to Kampa Park there is a wall covered in street art that seems out of place in these historic surroundings. But, the old buildings that make up most of the square may well envy the attention it gets.

Since the assassination of John Lennon in 1980, the wall has been filled with graffiti inspired by the singer, as well as pieces of lyrics from Beatles' songs. During the twilight of communism it was the site where young Czechs wrote their grievances against the regime.

Since then it has become a popular tourist site, but still contains much symbolic value and continuously undergoes change with new art pieces and messages appearing.

A considerable addition of new artwork appeared on the wall this week, after twenty local and international artists added their creations inspired by the message of peace.

Photo: ČTK/Michal Krumphanzl
The leading figure behind the project was Pavel Šťastný, the man who created the famous logo of the Civic Forum during the Velvet Revolution.

“For 60 years already, Lennon’s wall is a symbol of freedom in the Czech Republic. We are just starting our celebrations of 30 Years of Freedom and we wanted to give the wall a new face, because it is not just a Czech symbol, but also one that is also an international.“

One of the artists who contributed to the wall was Saleh al Shukairi, who is considered to be among the leading visionaries of Arabic calligraphy art.

“I did this artwork on a two by four meter strip of the wall and I had the opportunity to do it in different colours, so that I could show both the dynamic of Arabic calligraphy as well as how beautiful art is and how you can transfer words to an art piece.

“I created words which everyone who speaks Arabic can understand. However, when you see the piece you will know you are looking at something related to love, passion, and the whole feeling of love.“

Other contributors included Czech artist Kurt Gebauer, a group of Serbian artists from the Saša Marčeta Foundation, as well as various ambassadors who painted over templates.

Among them was Abdullah Mohammad Al Maainah, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in the Czech Republic, who designed the flag of his country as a student. His design now also adorns the wall.

Photo: ČTK/Michal Krumphanzl
Mr. Šťastný was not just the main organiser of this event, but is also one of the organisers of this year’s 30 Years of Freedom celebrations, to be held under the auspices of the Senate.

“We are preparing a whole bunch of exhibitions which will reach their crescendo during the autumn and ultimately in November. One of the main features is a travelling exhibition, which will launch on Monday in the Sultanate of Oman. After that it will also be displayed in other states such as Belgium and Serbia.”

When exactly the exhibit will be on display in the Czech Republic is currently being discussed, but Mr. Šťastný says the local public should be able to see the exhibit sometime between the end of April and beginning of May.