(Un) instructive self-taught
(Un) instructive self-taught
Vista Mars; 2017–2019 / sometimes published under the working title mPOD (abode for Mars) /
a residential module for Mars in a public space in the Rustonka administrative complex with a 360 ° video projection of the real landscape of Mars (taken from NASA); dural aluminum construction and casing, polyurethane insulation, rubber, steel, LED video wall, video projection; 960 <1120 cm, h 740 cm; Prague 8. Source: jiriprihoda.cz

Interview with sculptor (architect) * and graphic artist Jiří Příhoda

We met Jiří Příhoda in the Jihlava gallery, when he was preparing the visual style of the exhibition by Adriena Šimotová and Jiří John. This was followed by work correspondence and communication by e-mail (graphics for the Jihlava exhibition were created across the Atlantic). The demanding exhibition project was interrupted by the first anti-pandemic measures. The situation has changed and has not changed since the spring of 2020. Correspondence also takes place between two continents, with the difference that Jiří Příhoda has been spending a year in lock-down, as is already said in the Czech lands. "Now I am more worried about you at home," writes Jiří Příhoda in one of the March e-mails, "What the hell is going on there?" The world's media reflect the culminating epidemiological situation in our country.


You were born in Jihlava, you found the background in Lubná, a small village near Polička. You now live thousands of miles away in Austin, Texas. How is your relationship with the Czech Republic or your home region changing?

You can't choose your home region or nationality, just like your parents, and we are connected with them for the rest of our lives, if not by an emotional bond, then by the place of birth at the waist. Even though we are so small, insignificant, spoiled, conceited and poorly educated, I will be happy to return to the dead if I don't stay on my old knees in the Czech Republic, because the greater half of the people at home are sensible, clever, talented. Given how much we don't really have, we are incredibly cultural. The current difficult time of the pandemic, the wave of populism and our naive way of using social media are drawing too much attention to the smaller - simpler half, both in society as a whole and in us.

I like to ask about the first, initiating moment, a memory that from today's point of view you perceive as key to your work or a lifelong inclination towards fine arts or architecture. For example, do you remember an encounter with a personality, a work of art, or an act of yours that directed you?

My uncle - a Sunday landscape painter and a very positive reaction of the painter Mrs. Míla Doleželová, whom someone showed from my primary school landscape painting and explained my reactions to me.

In an interview for Atelierforart.cz, you mentioned your experience with STB, which was "captivated" by your events in the forest. How did these deeds penetrate the public and how did you experience the late 1980s?

This whole period culminated at the turn of 1988 and 89 - a temporary sculpture park under Roštejn Castle, which I did completely anonymously, was completed and began to be alive there. At one of my works, I found a sign calling me to stop behind the castle castellan, Mr. Hošek, and explain to him what it meant. Despite my acquaintances, I found out that he was a former Chartist, so I dared to stop behind him one dry evening, and he told me humorous stories about how the Estonians, perhaps even secret, "knelt" at him. He had to go to the forest with them and show them my creations. They cursed what kind of crap it was and that when they caught the junkie, they would turn around with him. The whole thing broke down because one of the local villagers reported to the police in 88 that used syringes had been found around. However, I never met anyone there except the mushroom pickers and the gamekeeper. In the years 86 and 87 I went there illegally - as a soldier of basic military service for "abandoned", but in civilian clothes, and if I was caught, or I would have to legitimize the girls (citizen and passport were confiscated during basic military service), so I'm going to the bass. Even after the war in the 88th and early 89th, it was close, the developed slides stopped coming from Foma (films purchased from the Czech Foma at that time had to be sent by post to Foma for development) of the photographed objects in the park. In my then job in Jihlava, at the Cultural Center, it was also in the midst of younger and Comanche people. Fortunately, my dad was a commander and a squadron in a larger factory, so it took them longer than if he were a dissident. Before the 17th of November, it was poured on several fronts, so they did not catch up and then the events took a completely different turn. In the summer of '98, I knew that if I was caught in my forest, it would be bad. In the summer of the 90's I was an assistant to Ivan Kafka at the Salzburg Summer Academy, he was dating a girl from Colombia. In the autumn of the 90's, instead of cutting at the Academy of Fine Arts, where after five years I finally got to Kolíbal, who chose me on the basis of my creations under Roštejn, I disappeared to Spain for two months to see the Colombian. On the way there, I saw for the first time a first-class exhibition of American minimalism in Paris, I fell under the spell of Barcelona, ​​I admired monumental objects from Chillida in the Bay of Catalonia in Biscay, and Velasquez took my breath away in Madrid. And that was just a humble beginning of what followed for years to come.

Your work can be described as architectural and sculptural, you connect your projects with video art, you participate in architecture, organization of exhibitions… How do you fit into these different roles? And does it all have something to do with graphic design? Besides, did QuarkExpres provide you with a platform for technical drawings? How do these different creative activities enrich each other?

Here I was very influenced by high school education at Hollarka in Prague, which covered everything from traditional drawing, graphics and graphic techniques, painting, graphic design, the basics of descriptive architectural drawing, modeling, casting and photography. The fact that I was not taken to the AVU, despite the fact that I had been honestly preparing for two years in a very traditional spirit and had developed a decent craftsmanship, a la the old masters, hurt me a lot. It also had practical implications - I had to go to war. But because I was at Hollarka, where two strippers came to my graduation year and were looking for a photographer and graphic artist for the army center of top sports - Dukla Prague, something intuitively advised me to slap them, even though the punker there was nothing more distant ... What a win it was, I realized when we were thrown into the tank regiment in Čáslav at the beginning - basic preparation. It was their intention for our pampered top athletes to warn that if they were not good and cut, a brutal "big shed" awaited them, about which it is not worth telling to people who have not experienced it firsthand. Surrounded by rowers, cyclists, shooters and footballers, I walked unscathed into the solitude of my photo-laboratory in Prague Pod Juliskou and had to work 14 hours every day, but sometimes I had a few hours left for my work and free weekends in concentrated peace. There, a wide-ranging education suited me. I have learned to photograph with all the technical background needed for this - to this day, I photograph most of my work myself. In addition, I did graphics, albeit in the pre-computer age, and it has remained so for me now, and it gives me the freedom in my job to make a living when it doesn't work with art. Well, when I ran illegally from the barracks on my weekends to my forest, I learned to manage stress and not panic, and I probably gained a degree of courage to go into things other than what I would have as an AVU student, in pubs sitting with friends. It was also good that from the stories of our successful athletes about their travels around the world, I began to suspect that the world is bigger than it seemed from behind our highlands.

The 1990s without censoring films in our cinemas and living together with my American wife, who came to Prague from me in Hollywood in Los Angeles in the ninety-third year, opened up the world of film, which I consider to be the current true equivalent of the medieval painters' painting churches with amazing frescoes, or filling the picture galleries of royal palaces.

Fifteen years of my career as a graphic artist of the architectural magazine Stavba from the end of 1999 gave me such knowledge of architecture that I was able to move from my spatial installations to architecture itself. I will allow myself to correct you again, I do not consider myself an architect, but if someone calls some of my work architecture, then I am not against it.

But beware - the fact that I work in so many fields is tricky and one has to be careful to choose only the one in which one is really the best. Thanks to my lack of concentration, I made a lot of gross mistakes that caused me to play only the third league for the rest of my life, only the second league in exceptional moments - to stay with the sports terminology of my war ... On the other hand, the idea that I he competed at the Academy four years under Haná u Čepeláka, to which I applied, but I don't know if I wouldn't play a league lower now.

You have been teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague since 2005. What importance do you attach to school and how did your concept of teaching differ from Stanislav Kolíbal or Aleš Veselý, with whom you studied?

Mr. Kolíbal tried to teach as a professor, ie as an authority with his rigorous program, which is a bit tricky that if a student watches too responsibly, he will start thinking / creating like his teacher. Mr. Veselý, on the other hand, gave everyone complete freedom and let his students struggle with themselves. As an uneducated self-taught, I rather appreciated the procedure of Aleš Veselý, after whom I took over the school at the Academy of Fine Arts in 2005 as a professor in the position of certain procedural embarrassment. I continued his approach, but unlike Aleš, I constantly reminded the students that it was up to them and I talked to them more - how I think it would be better and put more pressure on the necessary knowledge of theory, everything from distant history following completely current trends. I constantly have doubts about which approach is better. Here in the USA, teaching does not appeal to me at all, because here you cannot practice my doubts about the method of access on paying students, and I think that they are no longer even possible here at this time. I am simply a child of transition before and after 89. But university education is an absolutely basic necessity for all creative disciplines, and the easiest way to find my place in the current scene, either outside it or in its center.

Have you been approached by any architectural or artistic projects in recent years?

Not to mention, not to mention. But I have not been to any exhibition for more than a year. You have to experience architecture and art physically, the mediation of the media, if they themselves are not a created work, it doesn't make much sense.

What do these phenomena mean for you: "place" and "abode"?

Place, as a concept with a broader scope than more abstract space, is for me one of the basic elements since the beginning of my activities in nature in the Highlands in 1984 and 85. Later I used this term to categorize those works that are in public space, are not only by art or only by architecture or design. In addition to their morphology, geometry, proportions and content as a work of art, these are objects that can fulfill certain social functions, be used as a gallery, a place for lectures, performative reading. The dwellings also balance on the border of the sculptural-architectural object, but unlike the place, its potential functions are more aimed at individuals, they are intended more for private and individual use.

I can't help but ask about the Ark, your work, whose "voyage" began in Prague at your solo exhibition in Troja Castle, and once again you managed to anchor it in a completely different environment, near a silage pit in the village of Lubná. How did the Ark's journey go and what changes did it bring to its new berth?

Thanks to the invitation to a separate exhibition in the GHMP, or one of their most beautiful exhibition spaces - Troja Castle, I gained the courage to implement the two-year-old Archy project, as an architectural box the size of an elongated house for something worthy of survival. Today I call this realization Trinity Ark. In its exact spatial center, it had a copy of the central point of the fresco in the main hall of the chateau and thus of the building, which depicts the symbol of the Holy Trinity. Unlike the main hall in the Chateau, people could "touch" the fresco in the Ark.

After the exhibition, the GHMP toyed with the idea that the Ark could stay somewhere in the castle somewhere in the garden, but as soon as everything started to count and think through the details, the GHMP was afraid of all the costs related to it. My former assistant Martin Hurych, a neighbor in the village of Lubná, at one of our lunches at their home during my moaning, where I store a long tirk with a dismantled Ark, threw up "so give it to us in the garden". Thus began the odyssey of Archa from Troja to Lubná and thanks to a creative scholarship from the Ministry of Culture, in October 2017 we opened the first exhibition in the "Archa cultural center"

The ark is itself a work of art that offers space for art. This vessel then brought to Lubná, among others, Entropa David Černý, works by Kryštof Kintera, Alena Kotzmanová, Kateřina Vincourová, Václav Stratil, Jiří Straka, Milena Dopitová and other important contemporary artists. Do you remember any art project or projects that especially resonated in its bowels and brought some special experience to the creators themselves, for example?

Yes, it's been a great two and a half years with projects that have definitely pleased me. Veronika Bromová, Markéta Othová, Jiří Straka, Kateřina Vincourová, Krištof Kintera and Alena Kotzmannová made new projects directly for Archa. Vašek Stratil was directed by the association, ie "young people" (Martin Hurych and Eva Machová) outside the alternative ofARCH (no mistake - intention as one word), but he also prepared a project only for Archa. Milena Dopitová and David Černý let me choose from their work what I wanted, so I became to some extent a "curator". I think all the projects were worth it, and I don't have any that I would raise above the others. It was a valuable experience for me, perhaps even for the locals. Unfortunately, the two-year outage of the program, lack of funds and the inability to take care of the building itself due to the pandemic, the whole project becomes

Yes, it's been a great two and a half years with projects that have definitely pleased me. Veronika Bromová, Markéta Othová, Jiří Straka, Kateřina Vincourová, Krištof Kintera and Alena Kotzmannová made new projects directly for Archa. Vašek Stratil was directed by the association, ie "young people" (Martin Hurych and Eva Machová) outside the alternative ofARCH (no mistake - intention as one word), but he also prepared a project only for Archa. Milena Dopitová and David Černý let me choose from their work what I wanted, so I became to some extent a "curator". I think all the projects were worth it, and I don't have any that I would raise above the others. It was a valuable experience for me, perhaps even for the locals. Unfortunately, the two-year outage of the program, lack of funds and the inability to take care of the building itself due to the pandemic ended the whole project in its current form. After all, the Ark is more of a model, not an architecture that would survive the harsh Vysočina weather. The rate of damage to the building is such that I will not be able to continue my program this year, and as soon as I get home, we have to decide how to proceed with "Kulturák".

I returned to Archa in the last phase of my long Covid stay here in Texas, respectively to the 1: 1 model of its part, where it has a tip situated on the ground - ideally water. I also want to make a steel - monolithic version, which would survive me if I could get the means to do so. With that, I have plans to continue the ARCHA alternative, if possible with projects in the category above.

Do you work in the USA, China, Europe… Do you travel and move easily?

"Moving easily" is now taboo for a few years. Around January 25 last year, during a dinner with a Chinese woman who has her museum in Beijing and her Czech husband, we agreed to return to the ongoing projects in China, which I had to postpone due to the completion of Vista in Prague. That same evening, I booked a ticket to Beijing to stop for a round trip in the second half of February, before returning to Texas in the first days of March. During the week, with the growing number of people infected in Wuhan from the weekly "turn" to Beijing, there was nothing, the whole of China closed off. I was glad that I managed to return to my family a few days before the end of the flight between the EU and the USA. I have dark fears that when you have this collection printed in your hand, I will still squat in Texas for 16 months in one place (note: the interview was created for the collection (from) Vysočina Art, period counted until April 2021). All this after a decade, when 10 intercontinental return flights a year were common - almost two intercontinental flights a month. I feel that this time is gone for me. Admittedly, it's pretty tedious, whether you have $ for a business class or just the cheapest economy class. A 15-hour flight between Los Angeles and Guangzhou is simply challenging, with even more challenging time shifts between the locations you are relocating to. You will leave the above-mentioned Canton at 2.00 pm and you will arrive in Los Angeles the same day at 12.00, ie two hours before you left and the night is 3 o'clock.

Between the administrative buildings in Prague's Rustonka, a residence for Mars was built between 2017 and 2009, which you called mPOD. It is a "living" object whose inspiration came from a reality show; you used led displays in a public space. How do you think the object "works" now?

During the two-year implementation of the project for Rustonka, the concept of the original concept shifted a little differently. We eventually renamed the realization Vista Vista. The original meaning of the Latin word Vista is not only a journey, but also a prospect, and in order to enjoy the prospect, we must pause on our journey. So my rotating, mirroring object is not an abode, but rather a place to stop, a view of the desolate and empty landscape of Mars, but with its real presence somewhere millions of kilometers lost in dark space, and yet the same sun as our country illuminated landscape, is enough for me urgent challenge. Staring at this desolate reality of Mars, I am convinced that there is life all around us in the great universe, only that the proportion of distance and time is inhumane. The same view of the landscape of Mars is also inside the building and its interior is adapted for a presentation, lecture or meeting of up to twenty people. Before the pandemic, I planned to hold my program in it, I was just waiting for permission from the owner. The owner planned to rent the interior space or organize his events in it. All this has probably stopped now, the surrounding office buildings are said to be used only from 10% of their capacity.

What do you use to determine the size, scale of an object? Do you come from a human figure, from the surroundings?

Here I follow the classic definition of sculpture from its beginnings - everything derived from our human body, which is the center of any material proportion and size. What is present as the center of the past between the past and the future for the passage of time is our body for the passage of the scale from the smallest to the largest.

In 2019, we had the opportunity to see the fascinating conclusion of the architectural concept of the exhibition in the form of a recycled metal object of the feed silo, creating an environment for the Želivská monstrance. Would you share the thoughts and experiences that accompanied this act?

I was very happy with this "smaller" work and perhaps even according to the reactions they received, I succeeded. As is customary when you mess with something "big and demanding" (Vista Mars) for a long time, then the unexpected offer and its quick immediate realization and circumstances lead to a slightly sketched realization that will move some visitors to tears - and what can be a better reward…

I consider this implementation to be my second installation interpretation. The first was with artifacts - sculptures by Anna Hulačová in 2015 in the Hunt Kastner Gallery in Prague. The latter with an artifact that is not my work or an art object, but with a strong context of its origin and meaning, and that inspired me to the whole project. The context in which Monstrance was created led me to create a "chapel" for it in the exhibition, which I did as an architect and what was the assignment from the curators of the exhibition. Just as Monstrance was made from a cucumber jar and jam cans, because nothing else was available to monks locked up in a communist camp for 50 years, so my chapel was made from discarded forces - the feed tanks that M. Hurych found behind the silage. the pit at which the Ark stands, and which are from the most brutal period of "agri-animal production" of the goulash 70s and 80s.

Last year, you created the biblio-pavilion as a place to escape from the computer "and immerse yourself in the parallel reality of the print media," according to the designboom.com server. Can you describe the origin and production of this of your last (?) Realizations?

Not the last one, I just finished the stage for family theater performances, for playing without spectators during the lock-down and while waiting for the vaccine. Working title "2021: A Time Odyssey" and hopefully I will be able to publish it. Both of these works are a by-product of life-size mock-ups of my future exhibition or public space projects - the places I build here. As soon as I try on them and verify what I need to be sure that it will be worth the funds laid out later, I then enjoy varying, then remodeling the models according to what I thought of during the implementation of the new and based on interactions people who have seen them, whether in real life or only in the media, and who are important to me. For these transformed models, it is important that they are more or less made by hand or hand-held power tools and built only by myself. In the case of the Biblio Pavilion, however, I had preparation from 3D modeling software, after all, the negative shape of a baroque helix aka the geometry of a spirally rotating sphere is difficult to draw by hand.

The Covid19 pandemic has changed many of our ideas and plans. How did this time affect you? What did he take away, what did he bring you?

For me personally, many changes have taken place and will continue to take place. I lost my studio in Prague after 31 years and at the age of 55 I have no place to lay my head in Prague and no background. Probably by the time this collection falls into the hands of readers in the Highlands, I will be fully engaged in the process of moving after 10 years of life from Texas to New Mexico, namely to its largest city Albuquerque. As mentioned above, I will probably no longer have the strength to travel as intensively for work as until 2019. However, the inability to travel deprives me of work and means of life and new works. I am worried about the social life of my children (15, 13 years), who have been locked up at home for more than a year without their classmates and teachers and all the resulting. I am not a philosopher or a sociologist to be able to estimate and evaluate what this pandemic will affect on a deeper level and in the longer term. But my fear for Europe, for its cohesion, and its ability to stand up to monstrous China and hard America is growing. If the Trumpistic Republicans return to power here in the US in 4 years, it will be bad here as well - 4 years with the Hull was like a scary nightmare. Who knows if a pandemic is not actually the first clear visibility and warning of the ongoing decline of Euro-American civilization and its global dominance, even to lay people like me.

What are you looking forward to?

Of course, I am very much looking forward to the end of the pandemic, we will be able to return to a full social life, traveling for work and seeing all my close and dear beings at home in the Czech Republic. I have a solo exhibition in Rudolfinum next year, so I prefer to work to give it…

Thank you so much for your time and conversation!

asked Ilona Staňková, March – April 2021


* bracket additionally added in accordance with the author's statement


Resources and literature

Příhoda, J. (2002–2016). Jiří Příhoda. Retrieved April 2021, from Jiří Příhoda: http://jiriprihoda.cz/

Příhoda, J., & Azzarello, N. (January 13, 2021). jiří příhoda sculpts spiraling treetop biblio-pavilion to escape the computer screen. from designboom: https://www.designboom.com/design/jiri-prihoda-biblio-pavilion-books-01-13-2021/

Příhoda, J., & Váchová, L. (December 23, 2018). Jiří Příhoda: We live an endless series of eternal now. Retrieved from atelierforart.cz: https://www.atelierforart.cz/jiri-prihoda-zijeme-nekonecnou-serii-vecnych-ted/

Příhoda, J., Juříková, M., Císař, K., & Nekvindová, T. (2019). Jiří Příhoda 25 | 25. Prague: Karel Kerlický - Kant.


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