The story of Czech Cubist architecture, the most interesting offshoot of the art style popularized painter Pablo Picasso, is now put on spotlight at the ongoing exhibit entitled Czech Architectural Cubism: A Remarkable Trend.
The exhibit was jointly organized by the Czech Embassy in Manila and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, in cooperation with the Jaroslav Frágner Gallery in Prague and the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic. It is on view until April 29 at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts Gallery.
Born in Czech capital Prague a century ago, cubism is popularly known as one of the exciting new artistic styles of the 20th century, merited to Picasso in France, but spread shortly to countries including Bohemia and Moravia.
Soon after its beginnings as an artistic style, cubism gained ground in architecture and design as well, because of Czech architect Pavel Janák, who formulated the theoretical basis of so-called Architectural Cubism. He and a few others designed buildings and interiors, furniture and craft objects in this style in the 1910s and 1920s. Though short-lived, it made a real important mark in the history of European architecture.
Czech Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, who led the opening of the exhibit alongside NCCA Chairman Felipe de Leon, said a similar showcase for cubism has been shown in approximately 10 countries around the world, including European countries and Japan.
The exhibit in the Philippines, however, came straight from Prague and will not move on to other countries.
“This exhibit was specifically brought from Prague to the Philippines because a year and a half ago when we were talking about cubism with Chairman de Leon, [he]gave an idea of having a cubist Czech exhibition and so I brought it here,” Olša told The Manila Times.
Long considered as the birthplace of cubism in the field of architecture, Olša further detailed the importance of the unique style to their country and the rest of the world.
“Cubism was not massive, it was a fairly short period—let’s say less than two decades but in the same moment, the difference in the type of architecture made it significant. Now we understand how important the cubists were—although there were only a couple of tens of them in Czech and all over the world because the movement was very, very short—because it’s a unique Czech architecture style that was nowhere else in the world.
The exhibit features a visual presentation of the buildings that were both built and planned during the short period of cubism—including those that no longer exist. It also pays homage to the most important figures of this interesting epoch of modern architecture.
Ultimately, the Czech Ambassador believes that visitors would learn two things upon checking out the exhibit.
“I think they will learn two things: first that there are different styles in architecture and that Prague is a beautiful country. It’s not only a place with beautiful baroque churches, gothic buildings and Sto. Nino de Prague—there is a lot of more, which every tourists might see and might like,” Ambassador Olša ended.
Visit the exhibit at NCCA Gallery, G/F NCCA Building located at 633 General Luna St., Intramuros, Manila. Gallery is open from 8 AM to 5 PM Mondays to Thursdays and by appointment.