Brno, Feb 13 (CTK) – Moravsky Krumlov, south Moravia, has called on Culture Minister Daniel Herman in an open letter to prevent the export of the Slav Epic series of paintings by Czech Art-Nouveau artist Alfons Mucha (1860-1939) to China, town mayor Tomas Tretina told reporters on Monday.

The town points to the risk of the paintings being damaged due to unsuitable conditions in China.

The Slav Epic was displayed in the chateau of Moravsky Krumlov for decades in the past. The cycle moved to Prague In 2012.

The paintings will be sent from Prague to Japan for three months. The exhibition’s opening in Tokyo is scheduled for March 7. Then the paintings were supposed to be displayed in China.

However, Culture Ministry spokeswoman Simona Cigankova told CTK on Monday that the paintings would return home after the exhibition in Japan.

Tretina does not protest against the conditions for the paintings in Japan, but he minds the paintings travelling so long.

“I am generally against their export, but I cannot question the display conditions in Japan that are very professional. However, this is not the case of China where humidity as well as temperature are bad for the artifacts,” Tretina said.

There have been “sleeping moulds” in the canvas sice the creation of the paintings and if the environment changes for the worse, there is a risk of the moulds growing and destroying the canvas, he said.

He added that the Slav Epic should return from Japan to the Czech Republic.

“The most damaged paintings must be restored and only then a decision can be made on where they will be displayed,” Tretina said.

This is why he called on Herman (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) to prevent the exhibition in China.

The Culture Ministry said the Slav Epic would not be displayed in China for the time being.

“The Slav Epic will return home after the exhibition in Japan. The conditions of its possible export to China are not fully certain and verified yet,” Cigankova said.

Mucha bequeathed the paintings to Prague on condition that the city built an independent exhibition pavilion for them. It has not happened yet. However, the Prague City Hall declares that it will build suitable premises to display the paintings permanently.