The International Relations of the Art World

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ISP’s Mission is to Inspire, Engage and Empower all learners to be Curious, Competent, Compassionate, Changemakers. Alumni Stories show how students take the ISP Mission into the world and continue to live by the school’s values. Jakub Kodl (Class of 2017) in many ways embodies the inherent curiosity of ISP students.

Jakub Kodl (Class of 2017) is currently based in Prague following a pre-pandemic sojourn around the world. Jakub divides his time between the contemporary art gallery he runs with his brother Matyáš, KodlContemporary, and his studies in International Relations, Diplomacy, and Politics at the Anglo-American University.

Jakub talks about formative experiences at ISP that helped lead him to co-found a contemporary art gallery and pursue passions in his current studies of International Relations, Diplomacy, and Politics. He also discusses how ISP helped shape the ways he approaches challenges in the art and social science spheres. He also recalls how ISP teachers, Mr Dimitrov, Mr Crane, and Ms Fleming are all key influences on his current outlook and future plans. 

“ISP is really good at helping us build friendships that last a lifetime. Everyone kind of had their own circle of friends at school but it really didn’t end there, we all have a shared experience of being ISP students and this seems to make friendships strong. “

  • Where in the world are you and what are you doing?

I’m in Prague – my brother Matyáš and I went into business in 2017, the same year I graduated from ISP! We founded a gallery for contemporary art, KodlContemporary, and we organize exhibitions and auctions. Coming from an artistic family, our dad has the famous Kodl Gallery at Národní Divadlo and we were surrounded by art throughout our childhood. While dad specialized in 19th and 20th-century art, my brother and I made it our mission to showcase the work of some of our great Czech contemporary artists. 

  • You were obviously at the school a long time – what are your earliest memories of being an ISP student? 

I joined ISP in 7th Grade – I’d previously attended the Prague British School. Almost immediately, I felt a different experience at ISP through the friendliness of the place and the sense of community. The teachers were very encouraging and had a different approach to what I had experienced before. This was really important as I wasn’t yet fluent in English at that time. 

  • Was there something or someone at ISP that stimulated your interest in art?

We are a family steeped in art, but in my Middle School days, Mr Dimitrov was a real inspiration. He recognised my name and asked about my dad and we had some great conversations about art. One abiding memory was when we were drawing, he kind of gently told me I probably wouldn’t be a professional artist! That pushed me to think of art in a more abstract way. He may have inadvertently pushed me in the direction of the business and the promotion of art, I suppose! Mr D is a real artist and a great guy – I’ll always treasure those memories. 

  • You completed the IB program at ISP – what did you take from the program to what you did when you left?
Jakub at the Žofín Palace on the occasion of the Class of 2017 Graduation.

I actually never did the full IB as my brother and I were really busy setting up the gallery. However, IB courses and two teachers, Mr Crane and Ms Fleming, really inspired me in what I study now. I’m studying International Relations, Diplomacy, and Politics at the Anglo-American University in Prague. I enrolled in 2017 but I took a gap year with my girlfriend and fellow ISP Graduate Lara Kellnerová, Class of 2018. We took in 19 countries on five continents and it was a fantastic experience. 

Getting back to my studies, I’m not sure I would be studying what I’m studying if it wasn’t for Mr Crane’s Social Studies classes and Ms Fleming’s history classes, which were a real engine for me. My thesis topic is “Comparing and Contrasting Czech and Slovak Linguistic Nationalism of the 18th and 19th century from the perspective of Miroslav Hroch.” This could probably have come directly from my time with Ms Fleming as my teacher!

  • Do you keep in touch with old friends from school?

Very much so – obviously there is Lara and I. We got together when I was in 11th Grade and she is 10th and we are still together! I think more generally though, ISP is really good at helping us build friendships that last a lifetime. I mean everyone kind of had their own circle of friends at school but it really didn’t end there, I think we all have a shared experience of being ISP students and this seems to make friendships strong. 

  • Future plans – what do you intend to do in the medium to long term future and what do you think you take from ISP to the rest of your life?

I’d like to continue what I’m doing now to some extent, keep my interests in art and international relations going. I’d like to go on and do a Masters in International Relations either in London or Amsterdam – two cities with great art scenes where my brother and I have talked about doing something there too. Longer-term, I could see myself working as an advisor for a large organization as an international geopolitical and security advisor or the like – but that’s a bit further down the line. In terms of ISP, however, I think I’ll take the inspirations I mentioned above and as well as the friendships I have very much with me.