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7 Nov 2013 - 6 Dec 2013


A unique exhibition that has travelled through Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands) and Norway. A world of the Inuit and Saami mythology, fables, legends and fairy-tales through the eyes of two distinct Czech artists – Martin Velíšek and Luboš Drtina.

Myths and legends have always been an integral part of the lives of the Inuit and Saami people inhabiting the rough Arctic area. During the long polar nights or while trapped by foul weather on a journey, forced to stay in one place for a longer period of time, the northern hunters and reindeer herdsmen used to tell stories to one another. Many of the stories explain how the Sun, the Moon and the stars originated, why nature is the way it is, and why various animals look the way they look. It is often difficult to find moral justification to or a fitting punishment for the unwitting roughness and cruelty of some of the texts.

The Danish-Greenlandic polar researcher and writer Knud Rasmussen and the Norwegian philologist and the Sami language teacher Just Knut Qvigstad were two very important personalities who had preserved the mythological stories, fables, legends, tales and songs for the modern times.

Knud Rasmussen (1879-1933) collected most of the Greenlandic myths and legends and translated them to Danish. By doing so, he contributed to the knowledge of a small but proud and brave nation, and he enriched the world of literature by a remarkable tale-telling tradition. The Czech anthology called Grónské mýty a pověsti (Greenlandic Myths and Legends), translated by Viola and Zdeněk Lyčka, originated from his extensive work. The book was published by Argo in 1998 (2nd edition in 2007) with characteristic illustrations by the unmistakable Martin Velíšek.

Just Knut Qvigstad (1853-1957) collected many myths, legends and stories from Lapland and published them in the Saami language with a parallel translation to Norwegian. In 1997 the religionist Brita Pollan published a linguistically modified Norwegian version called Samiske beretninger (Tales by the Saami People) which was a base for the Czech translation by Viola and Zdeněk Lyčka. The book has a formal classification of the stories according to three levels of reality, which are often portrayed on shaman drums: stories from the foreign world (battle, eroticism, contact with the devil), stories from the familiar world (family, neighbours, Chudes, shamans, animals, signs of death, clash of the old and new times, trolls, etc.) and stories about the dead (corpses and outlaws). The anthology was published by Argo in 2006 with the title O muži, který si koupil svědění (A Man Who Bought Himself an Itch) stylized by Luboš Drtina’s illustrations.

The exhibition of the raw, rough and at the same time humorous illustrations by Martin Velíšek was presented for the first time in 2008 in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, as part of the project Czech Days in Greenland. Subsequently it was introduced in other Greenlandic towns (Narsaq, Qaqortoq, Maniitsoq, Sisimiut and Ilulissat) and in the years 2010-2013 it travelled across Denmark (Copenhagen, Aalborg, Odense, Hundested, Skive). More…


The exhibition of Luboš Drtina’s illustrations was presented in 2012 in Oslo, the capital of Norway, on the occasion of the opening of a new Saami Centre. In the same year, it was part of the Czech Days in the Faroe Islands, together with the exhibition of Martin Velíšek’s illustrations. More…


Martin Velíšek (* 1963) is a graduate of Professor Libenský’s Glass Studio at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague (1989). He engages in illustration, posters, animation and open art work. He is the “court” artist for the alternative musical band Už jsme doma. He is a member of the Czech Film and TV Academy. In 2002 he received the Czech Lion award for the creative aspect of the film Fimfárum by Jan Werich as well as an award from the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic for the most beautiful book of the year 1997. He has exhibited in Paris, Rouen, Vienna, Hannover, Munich, Frankfurt, New York, Seattle, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo, Nuuk, Segovia, Melbourne, Mostar and Warsaw. In addition to the Greenlandic Myths and Legends he also illustrated Babička (The Grandmother) by Božena Němcová, Animal Farm by George Orwell and many other books. More http://www.mzv.cz/copenhagen/en/news/exhibition_of_illustrations_to_the_czech.html

Luboš Drtina (* 1963) deals with book, magazine and CD design and illustrations, theatre posters, invitation cards, catalogues, types, corporate design, exhibitions and free graphic art. Since 1990 he has been illustrating books and making their graphic design for many Czech publishing houses (Pražská imaginace, ERM, Eminent, Thyrsus, Paseka, Volvox Globator, Knihcentrum, Nakladatelství Franze Kafky, Mladá fronta, Akropolis, Academia, Argo, etc.). He has designed more than 400 books. Since 2003 he has been publishing his own bibliophile edition. He was awarded in many Czech and foreign competitions.



The exhibition of illustrations for the Czech edition of the Greenlandic myths and legends by K. Rasmussen and the Saami fairy-tales and legends by J. K. Qvigstad is taking place at the Czech Centre Prague (Rytířská 31, Praha 1) in 6/11– 6/12/2013. Opening on 6/11 at 6 p.m.


With the support by Scandinavian House





From: 7 Nov 2013
To: 6 Dec 2013


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