The Free Coalition 12:15, Better Late than Never

curators: Ivan Neumann a Tomáš Rybička

It has now been thirty years since the Free Coalition 12:15 caused a stir with its exhibit entitled Better Late than Never. It was under this, for the public rather eccentric, name that this coalition of Czech artists, who were rooted in the 1970s and established in 1987, first publicly presented itself. At this time, the urgent question of generational coherence rose once again under pressure from official structures but also under pressure from the new, rising generation of artists. In the year 1987, through their numerous discussions, artists of that generation established a free coalition. The founders of the “free coalition” were classmates from the Academy of Visual Arts in Prague Václav Bláha (1949), Vladimír Novák (1947), Petr Pavlík (1945) and Michael Rittstein (1949). Later, they invited Jiří Beránek (1945), Jaroslav Dvořák (1946), Kurt Gebauer (1941), Ivan Kafka (1952), Ivan Ouhel (1945) and Tomáš Švéda (1947).

This group of artists, along with guest Jiří Načeradský (1939), presented itself in 1988 at the riding hall of the castle in Koloděje near Prague. They called their coalition “free” because they considered it entirely open to transformation. Soon after, two older artists, Jiří Načeradský and, later, Jiří Sopko (1942), joined them. The manifestation of artistic freedom in Koloděje attracted extraordinary attention and over 12 000 visitors saw it throughout its duration.

The exhibit prepared for the Gallery of Modern Art in Hradec Králové cannot set as its goal to carefully track the history of the free coalition and completely document its rich activities. It seeks, however, to present the current work of these artists who so fundamentally changed the course of Czech contemporary art.