Artists revitalize Lennon Wall

A new depiction of Václav Havel is among the additions

The John Lennon Wall in Prague’s Malá Strana district was reinvigorated March 18 with new paintings by Czech and visiting artists. The event called Meet Art was meant to mark 30 years since the fall of communism.

New images include a large depiction of the late Czech president Václav Havel as a young man wearing a T-shirt with the phrase “A Future of Freedom,” a map of the world with “All You Need is Love” in 30 languages, and a large number 30 with the zero as a smiley face, among other things. There was also a clever variation on the famous red-and-yellow multilingual Prague logo, but using the names of Lennon and Yoko Ono as the text.

Two dozen artists participated in the new murals. Only a 150 square meter section of the wall was repainted.

The event was organized by Pavel Šťastný, who made the Civic Forum right after the Velvet Revolution and also made a new logo for the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, and Petr Bouška, the co-author of the project “Láska.”

The Czech Chamber of Commerce, which is presenting this year as 30 years of free enterprise, was a co-organizer of the event.

Visiting artists came from Oman, Slovakia, Serbia, Canada and the United Arab Emirates.

The wall on one side of an enclosed garden is owned by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic religious group, and they have permitted graffiti there since the 1980s. John Lennon was murdered in December 1980, and the wall after that became filled with lyrics of Beatles songs and portraits of Lennon. It was a lone outpost for free speech for almost a decade.

Before the Velvet Revolution, authorities would often repaint the wall, but new messages would soon appear.

Šťastný said the Meet Art event was meant to return the wall to its original mission and make passers-by want to add a poem.

“The brightly colored Lennon Wall in the heart of Prague on Kampa was a pre-revolutionary symbol of freedom in the Czech Republic. Over the past 30 years, the wall became one of the tourist’s most sought-after locations in Prague, although it has been losing its original artistic vision. That is why the first event of the celebrations of 30 Years Of Freedom will be the recovery of artistic vision and symbolic meaning of the Lennon Wall,” Šťastný said on Facebook.

The Lennon Wall was in the news in 2014 when a group of art students painted the entire wall white save for the phrase “Wall Is Over,” a variation on Lennon’s “War Is Over” campaign from the early 1970s, related to his 1972 song “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).”

The Knights of Malta originally filed a criminal complaint against the students but later dropped it. The wall quickly acquired new Beatles-themed graffiti.

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