I had the opportunity to have a conversation with conceptual artist, Alena Foustková in her home studio outside of Prague, Czech Republic. We talked about: Fleeing Czechoslovakia, Commercial arts, Saatchi and Saatchi, Local markets, Young artists, Globalisation, Nationalism, Localism, artist residencies, Connecting with curators, The importance of curators, Art critics, Symbiotic relationship in the art world, Exploitation of artists, collecting art, and connecting with viewers.
Alena Foustková graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, Czech Republic, with an M.F.A. in 1982, majoring in printmaking. In 1984 she and her husband decided to leave then Czechoslovakia. Alena took advantage of a Canadian government program offer to study a certified commercial arts course at the George Brown College in Toronto for one year. She got a job with a small agency and in the next few years she learned more and more about the advertising business. She and her husband became Canadian citizens in 1988. During the 11 years spent in Canada Alena exhibited continuously in solo and group shows. Her Canadian and advertising experience became valuable after 1989 in the Czech Republic and Alena and her family decided to move back to Prague again in 1995. Alena and her family live in Prague ever since. Since 2009, Alena has devoted her time mainly to the arts. She also teaches at international universities in Prague, namely the Anglo-American University and UNYP (University of New York in Prague).
“Alena focuses in her (artistic) work for many years on social issues and the effects of mass media. She works with the sign systems and symbols which function as codes of a content. She captures fragments of reality in the information chaos.” (Vladimíra Brucháčková Závodná, Gallery Závodný, September 2014). Foustkova uses frequently participatory means of communication of her ideas, involving viewers into and interaction with her work and often manipulating or changing the art piece like in her project Dictionary (2015 – 16) made of thousands of words to be picked through a selection process.
Alena exhibits in prestigious national and international galleries and participates in projects which overlap boundaries of narrow categories. She works primarily as a multimedia artist. Her work is on display in a public space in Regensburg, Germany, in a permanent collection of the Neue Sammlung in Munich, Germany, as well as in local Czech galleries and institutions such as a well-recognized Gallery GASK representing work from contemporary artists of the Central-Bohemian region which displays her prominent work called Czechia to Czechs.