Sýpka Lemberk in cooperation with Galerie Kuzebauch

Opening 22/06/2024, 17:00

23/06/2024 – 20/10/2024

A Selection of Sculptures by Alena Matějka and Lars Widenfalk

The name of the Private Atlantis exhibition is designed to reflect the famous parable about the lost city – in this case highlighting the unique and globally celebrated works of two sculptors, namely the Czech Alena Matějka and the Swede Lars Widenfalk. Two Europeans who have cast aside all barriers with respect to thinking, working and even seeking to live in a non-consumerist manner. We are honoured to present the resulting works by these “cultural nomads” – in the best sense of the word – who manage to live according to their ideals in a variety of locations, including in their native Czech Republic and Sweden, as well as in Italy, Britain and other places. In essence, they go where there is work to be done, a challenge to surmount, as well as materials with which to craft, such as granite and marble; or where a glassmaker’s furnace can be found; or just friends, family and simple inspiration.

Home for both is considered the small southern Bohemian village of Betlém (Mnich) not far from the town of Kamenice nad Lipou. It is here that they frequently return to a kind of private Atlantis. For them, home is a fascinating place of eternal ideals, and also a place to continue to build and refine. It is also here that the hitherto not-yet-attainable goal of true sustainability for all civilisation is pursued. And it is here that barriers to disposability and consumerism continue to be built in the heart of one’s own paradise – through works mainly crafted in stone and glass, and also by the construction of a stone homestead complete with towers and cellars, walls, and an almost magical garden consisting of a historic roses, hundreds of tulips, bluebells and daffodils, with rows of trees planted by both themselves and their friends stretching to the horizon. Similar efforts to counter transience and decay are found via taxidermy, i.e. the stuffing of dead creatures, to whom Alena Matějka gives a second chance at physical life, especially when these creatures are presented in the context of her artworks, symbols and narratives. We also see a submersion into the dawn of human civilisation and its ancient archaeological forms (Lars Widenfalk), as well as a return to memories of childhood  and the presentation of timeless myths (by both artists). 

The couple met at a time when foreign influences were “invading” the Czech cultural scene, including the world of glass. Such outsider forces brought with them entirely new forms of creative rhetoric. Lars Widenfalk certainly represented this trend, too. Although both artists have seemingly avoided mutually influencing each other. Instead, each blazes their own respective course. He casts glass; she finesses stone-like works. Such “nomadic” approaches appear to be wired into the genes of both artists. Indeed, recent DNA tests carried out by both revealed that Lars Widenfalk had ancient roots in Moravia’s Dolní Věstonice, and could thus be considered of Czech stock. Conversely, the Czech-born Alena Matějka was found, twenty generations back, to have Irish, English, Scottish and Welsh ancestry, along with a little of Spanish and even Southern Swedish blood, too. Just as in other areas of contemporary science and art, our genes appear far more important to our fates than we might otherwise think.

This joint exhibition of works by both artists is an opportunity to highlight Alena Matějka and Lars Widenfalk’s most notable works, as well as an opportunity for visitors to ponder questions spanning our Western civilisation all the way to the meaning of life itself.

Sylva Petrová, Exhibition Curator