From 16. 06. 2024
Until 31. 08. 2024
Language: IT
The Jewish Museum of Bologna
Via Valdonica, 1/5, Bologna

Andrea Louis Ballardini: Flying Far

The exhibition of the Prague-born Italian painter Andrea Louis Ballardini is mainly dedicated to themes that arose from reading the diaries, letters and writings of Franz Kafka in which elements of Prague and Bohemian and Italian landscapes appear. The paintings on display are a pictorial and emotional journey through a few places chosen from those visited by Kafka, revisited „as if through his eyes“, trying to capture their intimate atmosphere and essentiality of form. The exhibition also includes drawings, watercolours, notes and a few painted panels used for the set of Kafka: Letters to Milena staged in Bologna at the Teatro del Baraccano.

It is a dream that I often have: I pick up some sticks or just pull off a branch...I lean on it as one leans on a cane in the street...and that’s enough to make me fly far away in long, outstretched leaps, uphill, downhill, as I please...

(Franz Kafka, Letter to Max Brod, Schelesen, January 1919)

Throughout his life, the German-speaking Bohemian-Jewish author Franz Kafka (Prague 3 July 1883 – Kierling, Austria 3 June 1924) was deeply connected to his native Prague and in particular to its old town. A lonely, tragic, and visionary yet rational artist, he was also amiable, curious, attracted to novelty and of a sporting nature. Whether alone or in the company of his close friends, Kafka loved to take long walks through the alleyways and streets of Staré Mesto (Old Town), crossing bridges over the river Vltava to the banks of the Malá Strana quarter which is clustered below the famous Castle or to the area’s large hilly parks. From panoramic lookout points, he would admire the magnificent roofs, domes and towers of the capital, cut through by the wide strip of the river. For fun, but also as an inspector of the imperial Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute, he travelled around Bohemia and in particular in its northern part, on the border with Germany. In this region dotted by small factories, he would explore dense forests, lakes and ponds, picturesque towns and romantic castles perched on hilltops. Traces of these travels, in the form of fleeting settings, small details and atmospheres described in a few words, are easily found throughout his literary output and demonstrate his fervent sensitivity and attention to the landscape and nature. Kafka also travelled several times beyond the borders of the Kingdom of Bohemia, taking the train to Paris, Vienna, Budapest and various cities in Germany, as far as the Baltic Sea. In homage to the Grand Tour tradition and following in the footsteps of the great German poet J. W. Goethe, the destinations of young Central European intellectuals living in the early 20th century could not fail to include the landscapes and lakes of the Alps of Trentino, Lombardy and Switzerland. Kafka visited these places in the company of his close friend, also from Prague, the writer Max Brod, with whom he wrote several travel diaries. Kafka took a total of four trips to Italy. The first two (1909 and 1911) were for the pure pleasure of travel, to feed their curiosity and imagination; the last two (1913 and 1920) were taken in an attempt to improve his poor health, his body undermined by tuberculosis. Kafka stayed in Riva del Garda and visited the surrounding area and the beautiful lakeside towns; he stopped in Brescia and Milan; he sailed on the Lombard lakes; he stopped briefly in Venice and Verona upon leaving Trieste; and lastly, he headed to Merano in hope of curing his ailing lungs.

Andrea Louis Ballardini was born in Prague in 1960. He studied art in the painting and restoration programme at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts and is a member of SVU Mánes (Mánes Association of Fine Artists). He has lived in Bologna since 1982. A painter, art consultant, restorer, illustrator of prose and poetry, and author of theatre sets, Ballardini is the founder of the Italo-Czech cultural association Lucerna in Bologna.

Organized by the Jewish Museum of Bologna (Museo Ebraico di Bologna)

A Special Day

Oil on canvas, 70 x 100 cm, 2023