Born in Prague on 27 January 1957, Jaroslav Róna is a sculptor, painter and performer belonging to the postmodern generation of the 1980s which has experienced the period of communism, its fall and transition to democracy. He was a member of the Tvrdohlaví (The Stubborn), a significant art group which participated in activities leading to liberation of the art scene from socialist demagogy. He has also worked as a theatre and film designer and participated in architectural work. The main focus of his work is creating sculptures for public space and painting. From 2005 to 2012 he taught the art of sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. His most famous sculptures in public space are, among other things, the following: Franz Kafka Monument in Prague for which he received the Grand Prix of the Society of Czech Architects; the Red Giraffe in Prague; the equestrian statue of Jošt of Luxembourg in Brno, the Mythical Ship in Bratislava; and the Child from Mars on Mount Ještěd. Since 1985 he has exhibited in Bohemia and after 1989 also abroad. He has illustrated several books, including 1984 by George Orwell and The Citadel by Saint-Exupéry. He has published two books of his drawings and texts.
Squeeze - Industrial I.
The sculpture was made to order in 2015 to be placed in in a modernized industrial area near the Holešovice harbour which was rebuilt into an administrative-residential complex. Two concrete pedestals, each 4 meters long and 2 meters wide, were constructed in advance for two sculptures (the other one was designed by Stefan Milkov) and embedded into the ground. This meant that the sculpture had to match not only its industrial surroundings and the pre-installed pedestal size, but the other sculpture as well. However, the project did not materialize and remained in the virtual model and visualisation stage. Sometime later, I was approached to create a sculpture for a very similar environment in the Šárka Valley which was also rebuilt — only this time the area was purely residential. I used the already designed Squeeze - Industrial sculpture which was a perfect fit for the location. The sculpture, comprising geometric and biomorphic shapes, evokes a feeling of compression — squeezing. To get the basic idea of the shape, I used an old photograph of a crashed hot-air balloon.
I also assumed that in a residential area the sculpture would serve as an object for children to engage with and play various games around, and I adjusted the shapes accordingly — so that it could be scaled safely and still encourage imagination. The sculpture in the Šárka Valley has a reddish colour of a fired brick, as a reminder that area had been previously occupied by a brickyard. The two-connected-spheres shape gives an impression of expanding and dominating a large space. I later created a second, black-grey cast for open-space exhibitions.