Review: Eros in Art

The Václav Špála gallery showcases Czech erotic art, ranging from the absurd and comical to the attractive and affecting

Various Artists - Erotika v umění/Eros in Art

Gracing the walls of this spacious, centrally located gallery is a panoply of the erotic, from the obvious to the surreal, constructed from a range of various mediums. Presented, perhaps not surprisingly, by the Forum for Sexual Vitality, the exhibition, showcasing a decent handful of Czech artistic talent, is unified in theme but certainly not in originality or style. Prep yourself for anything from the absurd and comical to the attractive and affecting.

Undeniably, working with the theme of "erotic art" produces a wide range of reactions in the artist and the viewer alike. Although this show, as you'd expect, features a few blatantly pornographic photographs, it's the works that aim to display the underbelly of eroticism - the strangeness or the deviations - that stand out.

Three pen-and-watercolor paintings by Milan Sopovšek, that vaguely look like they depict some sort of orgy with a sheep carcass, are actually quite attractive in their oddity. And Ondřey Kohout's Nordic Walker Couple in Love is as touching as it is silly, being a painting of a naked couple just so in love they can't keep their hands off one another, even on a brisk walk in the countryside.

Two of my favorites are Jan Sytař's A Small Airplain, boldly putting planes where they've never been before; and Ivan Komárek's little army of carved and painted Styrofoam meat trays, neatly arranged behind the reception desk. (Where they're hard to look at, I might add.) The carefully constructed picture trays are reminiscent of a grade school project, rendered by a slightly more maturely-minded student.

Located upstairs are the more openly erotic photographs. Mainly quite tasteful (if not a bit cheesy), these are flanked by a conservative little old lady who keeps an eye on the art, and the visitors as well, I suppose, to prevent them from doing something they shouldn't in an art gallery.

Although there is an entrance fee, it's only 30 CZK for full admission and 15 CZK for concessions - much less than you'd spend renting a porno. So drag yourself out of your flat and do something that'll make you feel slightly cultured and defiantly naughty at the same time. Brilliant!

Erotika v umění is at Galerie Václava Špály until Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

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