On Tuesday April 11th, my Prague Art & Architecture class visited the Frantisek Skala exhibit titled “Riding School” across the street from Anglo-American University. I had never heard of Skala before, but I really liked his work—I enjoy art that’s a little dark and creepy. The haunting nature of the exhibit made it hard to believe that Skala actually began his art career as an illustrator for children’s books.
The exhibit was dimly lit, and my Art & Architecture professor explained it was set up to showcase a number of different-themed parts. For example, there was one small room meant to resemble a museum. Another constructed room was labeled “Privat,” and the interior was decorated like a bedroom. On the bed was a giant, animalistic figure. A corner full of pellets further suggested that the bedroom’s resident was subhuman, but a pair of human shoes beside the bed indicated that it was not always this way. The whole scene was highly reminiscent of Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis.” Like I said, I enjoy some darkness in art, and something about this piece was almost tragic. It was one of my favorites in the exhibit.
Another of my favorite pieces was a large wooden structure with a gold top. It looked almost like a giant tooth. The wood had about a dozen small holes drilled into it, and visitors could look inside each hole to see a creepy little diorama in the wood’s interior. I thought this was a very unique means of display.
Overall, I was blown away by Skala’s wide range of subjects and mediums. In addition to the pieces I’ve described, there was an enormous unicorn sculpture, a large inflatable skull, a smartphone filled with sand, a series of painted envelopes, and much, much more. Skala seems to be comfortable using all and any materials. I think the incredibly diversity kept the exhibit engaging—every few steps, there was something impossibly different from what you’d just seen. At risk of sounding unsophisticated, the entire experience was fun.