For more than 50 years, Ota Prouza (*1959) has lived in a home for the physically handicapped in the town of Brtníky on the edge of northern Bohemia’s Czech Switzerland National Park. Despite all this time living in a rural setting of villages, forests and nature, he has spent all his life fascinated by the hustle and bustle of the big city, by highways, railways, and everything associated with urban infrastructure. He regularly buys books, calendars and magazines with photographs of the city: skyscrapers, streetcars, trains, and highway interchanges. Although he sometimes explores natural subjects (primarily herds of deer and birds in wildly-branching treetops), his main source of inspiration is clearly civilization, and he captures its pulse in drawings made using pencil, crayons, permanent marker, and pen on sheets of paper that he pastes together into strips that sometimes extend for several meters. His color spectrum depends on his current mood, often also on “whatever is at hand.” He often spends several weeks working on one drawing.
Another of Prouza’s obsessive subjects are hornets, which visit him in his dreams. His fear of them and his fascination with their strange beauty are so strong that these themes sometimes take precedence over urban life and appear in paintings the size of trucks, crowded together in swarms in all their nightmarishness and terrifying beauty.
Ota Prouza is almost always on the move. He does not waste time. In addition to working at the home, he goes on daily walks in the nearby surroundings, several kilometers at a time. In the evening, he settles down to his art and, perhaps influenced by the things he saw on his walk, escapes into grand journeys with no limits on time, possibilities or space, exploring international metropolises no smaller than Prague, New York, or Tokyo. Their skyscrapers, and especially their endless crisscrossing roads and rails with trucks, trains, streetcars, firetrucks and ambulances, are depicted from a bird’s-eye to create a series of images of his never-ending grand “trip.”