Review: Waste Recycling

Václav Jíra's hands-on kinetic art retrospective will put a smile on your face - and the accompanying exhibition of Baťa adverts is delightful too

Václav Jíra - Recyklace odpadu (Waste Recyling)

Overlooking the river is the bright, spacious Mánes exhibition hall, which features two separate show rooms.

In the upstairs gallery at the moment is Václav Jíra's tongue-in-cheek show, which combines kinetic sculptures made from found objects with paintings colorfully illustrating a 2-D jumble of the sculptures' components.

This exhibit screams "fragile" but you're in luck because it's all hands-on.

Jíra's show is a combination of work from the 1960s to the present.

When I arrived at the gallery I was greeted by a cacophony of sounds emanating from the sculptures littered across the floor. I could identify one of those really annoying electronic laughing sounds found in plastic Halloween witches, scratching metal, things banging - an electronic symphony.

Each piece looks frankly useless at first glance, and I suppose that they are, yet I had the eerie sensation that the machines wake up at night, gather in little groups, and create dastardly plans to take over the world.

Then I snapped out of it.

With a watchful eye I continued around the gallery, pressing buttons and stepping on pedals to awaken the creatures. Some of them banged on their own "heads," creating an annoying metallic sound; others were creating masterpieces of art, armed with a brush, ink and canvas.

I couldn't decide between my two favorite pieces: an object made with the innards of a piano, which pounded away at blank sheet music, seemingly frustrated at his writers' block, and a motorcycle, loaded with accoutrements that helped the sculpture create a canvas worthy of critical praise.

Needless to say, a smile was firmly planted on my face the whole time I was in this gallery, and I even laughed out loud a couple of times, but the best thing about the exhibition was that everyone else was smiling too.

Ladies and gentlemen, this isn't a show where you must mope around the gallery with a serious face, not daring to utter a peep. On the contrary, feel free to touch, laugh, comment and have a generally great time looking at contemporary art.

Imagine that!

Tomáš Baťa - průkopník reklamy a marketingu v Čechách

("Tomáš Baťa - Pioneer of Advertising and Marketing in the Czech Lands")

Rather unexpectedly, the exhibition of Tomáš Baťa's advertisements downstairs is quite delightful too.

A fair number of posters line the wall and a very interesting historical film about Baťa, his company, and his exploits is a great finish to the show.

The featured posters follow the history of the company from the early 1900s until almost the present day. The poster's designers were careful to follow the trends of their respective era, yet added quirky extras to catch the consumer's eye.

Posters are in various languages, including English, French and Arabic, and all reflect the same bright, colorful style.

Not a bad show to see if you're already at the gallery, but don't go out of your way to catch it.

Waste Recyling and Tomáš Baťa - Pioneer of Advertising and Marketing in the Czech Lands are at Mánes until Friday, May 5th, 2006

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