Located in Mala Strana, halfway to the Prague Castle, sits the Museum Montanelli (MuMo) currently hosting an intricate and exquisite art show till the end of June.
The painter ANTOINETTE has 40 large-scale paintings from her collection displayed in several rooms for an exhibit titled “Mythos Europa.”
The pieces are so whimsical and adventurous that they could only possibly be seen in some sort of dream. As well as sending somewhat of a political message, this show demonstrates unmatched creativity. ANTOINETTE’s mission for this project was to make art that reflected Europe’s culture and how it continuously ends up at a crossroads in its history. Her art is said to depict how Europe’s current situation could be made either into something beautiful or something very bad. ANTOINETTE seems to be concerned specifically with Europe splitting up and the countries dividing instead of staying strong together as a united force.
ANTOINETTE is a German painter, who has little information online regarding her upbringing and her home life. It seems that she wants to keep her personal life and her identity secretive, hence her singular name written in all caps. She is somewhat Banksy-like in her way of making somewhat extreme and politically sound artworks and then vanishing into the background. Although there is little information about ANTOINETTE, her photo is online and she looks as colorful and complex as her artwork. Many of her outfits and hairdos mimic her art itself and there is no doubt that she is the steady hand behind these masterpieces.
Inspired by European mythology, much of ANTOINETTE’s art mirrors old stories and Europe’s own creation myth. A centerpiece in the exhibit shows a woman riding a bull which is supposed to reenact Europe’s creation and has also become the seal for “Mythos Europa.” In the story, Zeus abducts the Phoenician princess Europa in the form of a bull and ends up having children with Europa on the island of Crete and creating Europe. While in ANTOINETTE’s almost panoramic painting of the princess Europa riding the bull, the colors pop from the image and the painting has such movement. For over 30 years ANTOINETTE has been working on this series of paintings describing this complicated love and creation story. Through her paintings she brings characters and fantastic beasts to life with her vibrant colors and dramatic detail.
The pink hues that ANTOINETTE uses are thematic throughout the exhibit and ranging in use from pink skies to skin tones of faces. Her ability to use powerful colors tastefully is something to admire. The ability to make something look real while using these types of colors poses a challenge for many artists and most of the time comes off as too much. ANTOINETTE, however, makes it look tasteful and above all extremely easy.
Not all of her pieces are so colorful, though. In another piece maintaining the bull motif, she illustrates a world in black, white and the occasional light blue. Even though these works don’t include her bright colors they change the mood and almost look ‘voodoo’ like. These paintings are accompanied by human-looking figures and her signature beasts. In another work, a figure of what looks like a woman is covering her face. As her dress sashays to the floor and her long curled hair drifts to the side of the painting, she is surrounded by nightmarish creatures. The contrast between beauty vs. beast could be ANTOINETTE hitting upon Europe’s history currently at a crossroads, and it’s unknown pending separation or union of European countries. This could also be a reference to Mother Nature hiding her face away from the beasts that inhabit and have taken over the earth (humans).
ANTOINETTE’s ability to make the viewer feel comfortable to admire her creativity without feeling uneasy or scared is something that lacks in similar surrealistic art. Her work is compelling and feminine; it’s obvious that she cares deeply on a personal level for women by the way she presents them in her works.
ANTOINETTE’s “Mythos Europa” is on display at the Museum Montanelli in Prague 1 from Tue – Fri: 2 pm – 6 pm and Sat – Sun: 1 pm – 6 pm until the 30th of June.
Photo courtesy of Lars Wiedemann, Museum Montanelli in Prague