Chemistry Gallery: Organic Art

Expats.cz

New Prague 2 gallery a showcase for young artists

“This is the chemistry of what you feel” is the slogan of a new contemporary art project for young and emerging artists.

“The Chemistry Gallery – I like the name because chemistry should mean that the gallery has various meanings,” explains founder and director Petr Hájek. “Chemistry between two people, between art and viewer, the feeling of the artist making it; everything around us is chemistry.”

The Chemistry Gallery (www.thechemistry.cz) opened in October 2008 and is dedicated to providing young artists, ones that are just finishing school, the opportunity to present their work and hopefully begin making a name for themselves. Besides the actual exhibitions, the Chemistry Gallery also displays art for sale in its studio and online. They’ve recruited a host of young artists to offer their designs; giving the public a sneak preview of upcoming art stars; while giving the artists a chance to show, and sell, their work.

The gallery is the brainchild of Hájek, by day, a mild-mannered business development manager for a consulting firm. He’d been thinking of doing some thing like this for about three or four years; even had a project plan in place. January 2008 was a turning point in the gallery’s conception; Hájek met Martin Kámen, the man who would become the gallery’s art director.

“I showed Martin my plan and he nearly agreed with the whole project,” says Hájek about their whirlwind start. “In April we started looking for a space, moved into our current space August 1; August 15 had a pre-opening party and the official launch was October 15.”

Since then, they’ve had two exhibitions and a fundraiser in cooperation with two other galleries. Their third exhibition, Next Targets opened March 24. This is the first in what Hájek says will be a series of exhibitions pairing “old” artists with “new” ones.

“The goal is to present the future stars of art,” Hájek says. “It will always be an exhibition of artists; one older and one younger whose work somehow communicates together.”

He says the older artists have experience and are the main attraction while the younger artist will have exposure thanks to the older one.

But there’s more to the Chemistry than just introducing new Czech artists. Hájek says they want to showcase a mix of emerging Czech and international artists (indeed, their opening exhibition was an installation from a Portuguese artist.) He hopes this will create opportunities abroad for Czech artists through the gallery’s cooperation with similar projects in other countries.

The Chemistry Gallery has an ambitious schedule of events. Hájek says their goal is to present about ten exhibitions every year. Up next is a design show featuring furniture and floral arrangements. The summer will see a “best of” student’s work from local art schools. Reaching out to universities is an important part of Hájek’s plan.

“We want to find artists and monitor what is going on at the universities, keep in contact with art history departments and ateliers,” he says. “It’s an organic process – we know some people, we want to find new people, lots of word of mouth.”

Next fall will see an exhibition from a Czech painter, plus another international exhibition, Hájek is thinking possibly something in new media.

The gallery space itself is small, quietly existing in a Prague 2 neighborhood. The 90 square meter space, plus large terrace has two rooms showing their current exhibition, plus a larger room filled with artwork for sale. There’s a small sampling here: Paintings, sketches, comics and sculptures. The Chemistry Gallery is definitely a labor of love for Hájek; he’s financed it himself, but plans to look for support via grants and foundations. The sale of art helps pay the rent. And unbelievably, admission is free.

“In western European countries, galleries like this exist and these are the places I want to see,” Hájek says. “They present contemporary art from new artists and I wanted to realize this concept in Prague.”