Culture & Society Czech Republic News

Czech artists auction work to raise money for Ukraine

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Prague, Czech Republic – Over 100 Czech contemporary artists have joined forces and donated their work to a fundraising auction with all proceeds going towards aid for Ukraine.

The auction initiative called Art for Ukraine (Umeni pro Ukrajinu) is co-organised by four Prague galleries.

Those interested can view the artwork and place their bids online at umeniproukrajinu.cz, with the auction culminating in an in-person event hosted at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art on Saturday, March 19.

United in support of Ukraine

One of the organisers, the Bold Gallery, is also hosting an exhibition featuring all the artwork up for auction.

More than 100 people come to see the exhibits every day, Oldrich Hejtmanek from Bold Gallery told Kafkadesk.

Hejtmanek originally planned to raise funds for Ukraine by hosting a small-scale exhibition with an auction involving about 20 artists working with his gallery.

But after he introduced the idea to other galleries in the Prague 7 Holesovice district, the initiative grew rapidly.

“From 20 paintings, there was suddenly over 100 of them, more than we had expected,” said Hejtmanek, adding he was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic feedback from everyone involved.

“Art has many positive functions, and this time around, it has united not only gallerists and artists, but also, we hope, those who support us. This will enable us to support Ukraine […] and express our admiration for those who set out to create rather than destroy,” explained Blanka Cermakova of Trafo Gallery, one of the co-organisers.

Credit: Umeni pro Ukrajinu / Art for Ukraine

Auctioning the best of contemporary Czech art

Although the galleries did not want to set a fundraising goal, Hejtmanek said the auction might raise around five to six million Czech crowns (from €200,000 to €240,000) for the People in Need SOS Ukraine collection.

At the time of publication, the online bids amounted to approximately 2.7 million Czech crowns (more than €100,000).

The auction features 134 pieces created by as many Czech artists who have previously worked with the organising galleries – Bold Gallery, Trafo Gallery, The Chemistry Gallery and the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art.

Hejtmanek said the featured artists are among the best of the contemporary Czech art scene.

While the majority of the auction pieces are not related to the conflict, some artists have donated new works created as a direct reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, for example, the blue-yellow Madonna sculpture by Martin Skalicky.

Similarly, photographer and sculptor Katerina Komm decided to create a dedicated art piece for the auction, transforming one of her former works into a polaroid photograph titled Safety of Ukraine to “accurately reflect the situation”.

“Everybody is perceiving the situation in some way and trying to find various forms of help that they are capable of doing,” Komm said to explain why she joined the auction.

Credit: Umeni pro Ukrajinu / Art for Ukraine

Sculptor Krystof Hosek donated a newly-made bust of Vaclav Havel, the former president of the Czech Republic and Czechoslovakia.

The art piece named Havel Forever portrays the president smiling, smoking a cigarette, with a bright red heart shining on his chest.

Hosek said he considered the bust to be a fitting contribution for the auction as Havel, an anti-communist dissident and playwright, had long warned about the potential threat posed by Russia and the possibility of a conflict.

While there are no specific plans for the future, Hejtmanek said the organisers have been talking about a possible sequel, depending on how this week’s auction goes.

The physical auction starts at 4 pm on Saturday at the DOX Centre. People can simultaneously place bids online to participate if they cannot attend the in-person event. 

The pre-auction exhibition is open daily from 2 pm to 6 pm and ends on Saturday.

By Karolina Bohacova

A freelance journalist from the Czech Republic, Karolina is now based in Liverpool, UK, covering Czech and Polish affairs with a focus on social issues. She previously worked for the Reuters news agency and the international outlet Coda Story. You can follow her on Twitter.

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.