“We need to be open to help all people who are suffering”: Czech artist reveals new mural

A Czech artist who goes by the name Chemis has recently unveiled a mural in Prague’s Smíchov neighbourhood. The artwork is in collaboration with Doctors Without Borders, and focusses on the civilians who are affected and injured by war, and pays tribute to the doctors working to save them. I met with Chemis to discuss the mural and the meaning behind it.

Chemis | Photo: Amelia  Mola-Schmidt,  Radio Prague International

“The mural is in Smichov on quite a busy road. It’s a collaboration with Doctors Without Borders, an organization here in Czechia. They asked me if I would do a mural based on the work that they do, and I chose the topic of surgeries and the aftercare of war related injuries – bombs, gunshots, and things like that. The mural took half a year to plan and two weeks to make.”

It’s a very timely mural in terms of the fact that we have two global conflicts going on in the world right now – both in the Middle East and Ukraine…

“It’s one way to see it – but we’ve seen these conflicts before, for example in Yemen, or in parts of Africa. There are minefields in these places, and now the area with the most minefields is in Ukraine. It will take a long time to get rid of all the mines, and unfortunately it’s going to impact the civilians that are living there even after the conflict is over – it will still be dangerous for them to live a normal life.

“So that’s what the mural is about – that we’ve been here before, and that Doctors Without Borders is helping people get back to their normal life. Unfortunately, it’s still going to be here in the future, and on an even bigger scale. The care of injured people is not only just on the front line, but it continues after the conflict ends. The timing of the mural isn’t necessarily about today only.”

Sometimes living in the West, we can forget just how prominent these conflicts are since we aren’t that close to them in proximity. When someone walks by your mural and sees your art, what are you hoping they take away from it?

“This mural is focussed a bit more on the Middle East, not as much on Ukraine. For us here in Czechia, the war in Ukraine feels like the main war because it’s right here in Europe. But there are other conflicts going on, for example in Israel and Palestine. I want people to remember that we have fires in many places right now, and it’s important that we support organizations that are helping people. For me, of course Ukraine is very important, but the problems we are facing right now are global, and we need to be open to help all the people who are suffering.”