Josef Achrer

* 1951

  • "We arrived there and the wall was already half dismantled and there was an amazing atmosphere that was colored by real street art. The entire length of the wall, which was thirty or forty kilometers long, was painted. So, the torsos of the artistic or less artistic or as amateur painting, which we have full of Prague, yes, so it was all beautifully focused on the one big one, you could say canvas, on the one big base of that length of that wall. And so this is an experience that I will remember to death. In short, we were there when the Berlin Wall was being demolished."

  • "The answer is clear, because well, let´s go through our country. I have a few photos somewhere, what Jindřichův Hradec looked like, what Znojmo looked like, what these towns looked like, especially around our southern and northern borders. Well, it was hell, and the filmmakers liked it too, because those were half-smashed cities. How was Most or Vyškov, for example, destroyed with a single blast? Now that you come everywhere, there is new lighting, beautiful tiles, no tarmac. They dug it all out and put a good dice in it. Facades of buildings repaired..."

  • "My dad died in 1988. Imagine he didn't live to see the revolution. Such a person died in the 1988. So no reward for what he had experienced with the communists came to him. I still remember my exhibition, when he came with a walking stick, completely white. Sixty-year-old guy. I'm seventy and I still feel pretty good. So, he was completely white, damaged. He arrived to Rakovník with a walking stick, to Rabas's gallery. My mother drove him there because she had a driver's license. My father had not been functioning for a long time, and that was the last exhibition he saw, and he died about six months later.”

  • "I was still at home after school. The other boys went to play football and who knows what, but I was always at home and I was painting and drawing there. And I also won those youth competitions. And I had to repaint it in front of the commission because they thought my father was painting it, so after school I painted the same drawing until late at night and I then submitted it. So, I remember very well how I had to paint the same drawings in front of my teacher Kachlík, who had us for art education, because they didn't believe that I painted it."

  • "I remember how I got my driver's license in 1969. After we were 'rescued' by the Soviet army and the normalization was slowly approaching, I was actually expelled from the driving school because I had long hair, so they didn't even let me finish my driver's license. At that time, my father was already the enemy of the homeland and he returned his party ID. That time was absolutely terrible, when I think about it now.”

  • Full recordings
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    duration: 01:09:04
    media recorded in project Memory of the Nation: stories from Praha 2
  • 2


    duration: 01:54:05
    media recorded in project Pamětníci Prahy 3 vyprávějí
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I would never emigrate in my life

Josef Achrer, 1961
Josef Achrer, 1961
photo: Archive of Josef Achrer

Josef Achrer was born as an only child on October 31, 1951 in Vyškov. His father was a trained goldsmith and watchmaker and also a passionate amateur painter. His mother had an economic education. From a young age, Josef enjoyed drawing and painting. It was a natural escape from the gray reality for him. He got to the Secondary School of Applied Arts in Brno, where he also experienced the Warsaw Pact invasion in 1968. In 1969, his father left the Communist Party and his uncle George emigrated to Canada. Logically, a very dark and difficult period began for the family. For these reasons, Josef Achrer was not accepted to the Prague Academy of Fine Arts or the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. Fortunately, he got to see Zdeněk Sklenář and he then attended his private painting lessons for two years. In 1974 he joined the national company Výstavnictví, where he was employed as a painter of film posters and so-called awnings. He worked on his paintings at night and hoped that one day he would be able to devote himself to it to the fullest. At that time, he got married for the first time and he and his then wife Alena have two sons, Jakub and Josef, who is also a successful painter. After the divorce, he met his second wife, Lucia, with whom he has a daughter, Nela. In the summer of 1989, he and his friends went to Berlin to help tear down the Berlin Wall and became fully aware that communist totalitarianism was coming to an end. After the revolution, he left the national company Výstavnictví and finally began the period for which he had been looking forward to his entire life. In 1994 he had his first exhibition in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2021 he still actively painted and held exhibitions. He has sold around 500 paintings worldwide. He is a patriot of Žižkov, where he also lives with his third wife Kateřina.