This spring Louis Vuitton is publishing four new titles in the Travel Book Collection. The books in this series offer a modern view of travel, both real and virtual, they provide us with an intellectual, emotional adventure and are also works of art in themselves. They are produced in collaboration with the young and talented, as well as with recognised artists from all over the world, including illustrators, animators and cinematographers. Each city, country or place is shown here exactly as the artist saw it.
The ‘Tales of Prague’ project allows us to see the romantic and poetic Prague through the eyes of Pavel Pepperstein, one of the most celebrated figures in contemporary Russian art. Some 70 watercolours and collages shown in the exhibition represent Prague as a mystical city in which Gothic spires and the sculptures of David Černý combine with the vivid impressions and memories of an artist who first journeyed here at the age of fourteen and later, in the mid-1980s, studied at the Prague Academy of Arts. Both the ancient legends of the Golem as recounted by Gustav Meyrink and the works of Franz Kafka find reflection in Pepperstein’s ‘Tales of Prague’.
‘Prague is a mystical place full of secrets and legends,’ says Pepperstein of his project. ‘Each person here becomes a character in the tales of Prague — that applies to me, too. Having spent several years in this city at different stages of my life, I found myself in the most unusual situations...
Once I was walking by the Vltava River on a very sunny, bright day, as seagulls soared over the water. There ensued one of those states in which your vision is heightened, and every transparent drop of water on the birds’ water-resistant feathers shimmered, highlighting each feather. At that moment I was for some reason struck by a sense of the hopelessness of existence. I suddenly realised that this earthly life is the only one we have, and no shift to a transcendental plane can save us from the inevitable return to this world.
No such revelation came to me in any other cities. On the contrary, I was more likely to feel the multiplicity of worlds. The ‘Tales of Prague’ exhibition represents the echoes of those phantoms that confronted me during the Prague period. In these streams of images or sensations conjured up by particular places there are also abstract categories. For example, I associate with Prague the feeling that I have iconographically tied to abstract geometric figures — that sense of the hopelessness of life.’
Pavel Pepperstein is an artist and writer, one of the founders and a long-time member of the Inspection Medical Hermeneutics group. His works feature in the collections of major museums worldwide, including the Centre Pompidou, Russian Museum and Tretyakov Gallery. In 2009 Pepperstein represented Russia at the Venice Biennale.