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Šípek’s exhibition opens in Dancing House

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Prague, Oct 5 (CTK) – A retrospective exhibition of Czech artist, designer and architect Borek Sipek, 66, a friend and collaborator of the late Czech president Vaclav Havel, opened in the Art Salon gallery in the Dancing House in Prague centre on Havel’s birthday Monday.

The installation called “Out of Limits,” which the artist has prepared himself, presents almost 200 of his works from various glass and china artifacts to original pieces of furniture that he created in the past 20 years.

Visitors can also see a unique vase designed by Havel (1936-2011). It is shaped as a rose stalk with thorns, hinting at the name Sipek, which means rose-hip in Czech, and called “Sipek who cannot be grasped.”

Havel gave the drawing to Sipek as a gift on his 55th birthday in 2004 and seven years later, the artist made a glass vase according to it in seven copies. The fourth and last unsold one is now on display in the Dancing House.

“I am not sure that I have chosen glass. I suppose that glass has rather chosen me,” Sipek told CTK, explaining why he decided to work mostly with this material.

The exhibition offers Sipek’s glass vases, bowls, carafes, chandeliers, lamps and candlesticks, china cups and plates as well as furniture, chairs, armchairs and cases, including his series of veneered and inlaid furniture inspired by the Greek and Aborigine mythologies.

Sipek left Communist Czechoslovakia for the West after the Soviet-led invasion in 1968. He studied architecture and philosophy in Germany and later, he worked as a designer and lecturer. In 1983, he moved to Amsterdam where he opened his own architecture and design studio.

Following the collapse of Communism in Czechoslovakia in November 1989, he returned home where he started working as a glass and furniture designer. He was the architect of Prague Castle, the presidential seat, during the presidency of Havel (Czechoslovak president in 1989-1992 and Czech president in 1993-2003).

Sipek, for instance, designed some furniture and glass artifacts in the interior of the castle as well the Castle Gallery and the entrance to the Presidential Office. During Havel’s era, he also created official glass gifts for foreign visitors.

Most recently, Sipek became the designer of the symbolic “Havel’s Places” or benches that have been placed in Prague and other Czech towns as well as abroad, for instance, in Washington, Dublin and Barcelona. The place is shaped as a round table with a tree growing in the middle and two chairs where people can sit down and have a conversation in Havel’s spirit.

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