PLAN_T: Jakub Kodl and Lukáš Novák

How do we plan in an arts operating environment, what do we plant? And what makes our projects grow?

How does the young private gallery Kodl Contemporary work? What is its relationship with the artists? Where is it heading? And what is growing out of the recent good auction results?

Kodl Contemporary in Prague and Helsinki presents a selection of works by contemporary Czech and Finnish artists during the traditional Summer Art Salon. Among them was Lukáš Novák, who we welcomed to the studio on this occasion together with Jakub Kodl, owner of Kodl Contemporary.

You can see the exhibition at the Kodl Gallery in Prague from 19 June until 31 August. The Prague exhibition will be followed by an exhibition at Helsinki Embassy Gallery from 7 September until 2 October 2023. Other Czech artists represented in the exhibition are Rony Plesl and Ira Svobodová. The artists from Finland are Miika Nyyssönen, Vesa-Pekka Rannikko, and artist Leena Nio.

Kodl Contemporary was founded six years ago by Jakub Kodl, currently the only owner, together with his siblings. The aim of the project, according to him, was from the beginning to push Czech art in an international context and Jakub Kodl’s vision for the future years is to push this platform focused on selling works by contemporary Czech artists further into the world.

“I am the fifth generation to take care of the collection founded by our ancestors and the third generation of gallery and auction house owners,” says Jakub Kodl. He adds that he was initially warned by his father Martin Kodl, owner of Galerie Kodl, against entering the contemporary art market, saying it was “too wild”. Now, however, he welcomes Kodl Contemporary’s success, and the two galleries are mutually supportive, according to Jakub. “It’s really a family business, my younger sister Adéla and older brother Matyáš Kodl were there at the creation of Kodl Contemporary,” he explains.

Kodl Contemporary focuses on selling art from contemporary young Czech and international artists and has already exclusively represented three prominent figures from the Czech art scene. Jan Kaláb, Jan Pištek, and the third one, Lukáš Novák, a glass designer and artist who meets the two basic selection criteria of the Kodl Contemporary team. From a professional point of view, he has a history of exhibitions and sales. “On the human side, it’s even more important for me because we are in daily contact, we have to understand each other. And Lukas and I get along very well,” says Jakub Kodl.

As part of the Summer Art Salon 2023 at the KODL Gallery, you can visit a guided tour with Lukáš Novák on 27 August 2023 at 4 pm. Lukáš Novák’s works on display at the Summer Salon include the interactive work Purification, the light object Ego Child, two glass objects Pretty Mirage, and three vases Ego Made. All of them have already been sold at the exhibition in Prague, so Finnish buyers will have to wait for the opportunity to purchase a glass artifact.

And how does Kodl Contemporary work in exclusive representation? On the Novak representation side, Jakub Kodl openly says: “They have picked up sales and media coverage. The idea is that Lukas should just create, and we should do everything else. Lukáš should have 100 percent concentration to do art to the maximum. Then from our side, it’s providing PR, marketing, and funding for new projects, but also the feedback, strategy, and planning that we provide to our artists. We try to do our best for everyone.”

For Lukáš Novák, having exclusive representation at Kodl Contemporary is a big step, but he has full confidence in the gallery, mainly due to the open and intensive communication that takes place between him and the gallery. It is important for him to be honest with regard to planning and entering into big projects. Lukáš Novák works with full commitment and expects the same from his gallerist, he has also procrastinated and waited a long time for the right opportunity. “I’m glad to have someone to watch my back, and I’m trying to do the same,” Novák adds. “We try to keep things clean and positive between us.”We’re trying to keep a clean and positive energy between us that we can then give out,” they agree.

When asked what are the visions the gallerist and artist share and where do they want to go? They answer that they are currently building a reputation in the Czech Republic, achieving auction results and gradually moving their activities abroad. Internationally, they are betting on the medium of Czech glass, which resonates in galleries around the world. Lukáš Novák does not want to reveal specific institutions, but he is targeting regions such as Shanghai, New York, London, or Los Angeles. Kodl Contemporary Gallery is aiming for Art Basel, and once Jakub Kodl graduates he will focus on that. At the same time, he wants to keep the goal of helping Czech artists, so he wants to present only Czech art at Art Basel.