Vernissage de l’exposition de l’illustrateur Jiri Sliva à l’Institut Français du Cambodge
Excellence Mme Phoeurng Sackona, ministre de la culture et des beaux-arts,
His Excellency Vitezlav Grepl,
Ambassador of the Czech Republic in Cambodia,
Ladies and gentlemen,
As you might expect, I usually speak French here at the French Institute but you will understand that, today, I have to make an exception.
Indeed tonight’s event is exceptional since the French Institute is not the host of a French artist, although we may wonder looking at the artwork inspired by wine and our café culture, but of a celebrated Czech illustrator, Jiri Sliva. This exhibition is a good illustration of the French Institute’s motto : “la culture en partage”. I am not sure about the English equivalent : sharing culture or sharing through culture ? Anyhow, it means that the French Institute is open to other cultures than ours : Cambodia’s culture of course, cultural dialogue between French and Cambodian artists, other cultures as well. As you know, France is a great supporter of cultural diversity.
This exhibition also reflects the longtime friendly relationship between the Czech Republic and France which go back to the Middle Ages. Let me recall that France was the first country to recognize Czechoslovakia’s independence even before it was officially proclaimed on October 28, 1918.
Unfortunately, Europe’s division after World War 2 had an impact on our relations but let me also recall that in 1988, François Mitterrand was the first head of state to openly support the opposition during his visit to Prague by meeting several of its representatives, one of which was Vaclav Havel.
Over the years, our cultural relations have nurtured by several Czech artists who chose to settle or to spend some time in France : the Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha, the poet and artist Jiri Kolar, the writer Milan Kundera to name only a few.
Beyond the bilateral relations between France and the Czech Republic, this collaboration also illustrates what must be today the promotion of European culture. Some people say that there is no such thing as “European culture” because of its great diversity. But this is precisely what defines it and makes it unique..
It is also important that European countries work together to promote shared values. This is what we do on a regular, I should say on an institutional basis, with our German partners. It is good that we do it today with our Czech friends.
For all these reasons, I am glad that the Czech Embassy has chosen the French Institute as the place to host Jiri Sliva’s exhibition to which I wish a great success.
Thank you. Merci