Full Moon Dreamers is a group exhibition curated by Michal Stolárik at the Steinhauser Gallery in Bratislava.
Full Moon Dreamers
Artists: Zsófia Keresztes, Jinhee Kim, Eliška Konečná, Christof Mascher, Adam Šakový, Titania Seidl
Curated and text by Michal Stolárik
13. September – 31 October, 2023
Steinhauser Gallery, Bratislava
Many will no doubt attest the power of full moon to affect sleep patterns and lead to vivid, odd, even bizarre dreams. Insomnia, sleepwalking, mental overload, inner tension or peculiar behaviour are among possible common associated manifestations. Mythology and folklore link the full moon with magical elements, motifs of transformation, werewolves and vampires awakening. Committing a murder during full moon in 18th-century England, for example, would give leeway to plea insanity and seek a lesser sentence. Come what may, according to some studies, full moon actually affects the REM sleep, melatonin levels, and reduces overall sleep efficiency.
The Full Moon Dreamers project is inspired by the atmosphere and narratives of distorted reality, while exploring and reflecting on current tendencies in contemporary European art. With painting and object made by international artists at its main focus, the project communicates a broader range of artistic approaches to constructing storylines and visual compositions. It naturally transverses from straightforward depictions and relatively legible objects of interest in the foreground (though nothing is as obvious as it may seem at first glance) to elaborate multi-layered visual collages harbouring diverse sources of inspiration. The core of the selection includes figurative motifs, bodily fragments or hints of material worlds. They draw us into plots that directly refer to personal experiences, original mythologies, allegories and symbols. The curatorial project, flirting with updated forms of surrealism represents a sheer inspiration by dreams or original mystifications that obscure reality and activate our subconscious. Slowly we float through sleepy surroundings, tensely uncovering mysterious, fanciful and intimate microworlds.
In Untitled (2019) by Zsófia Keresztes (1985, Budapest), pastel shades of pink, yellow and blue merge into a jagged gradient reminiscent of a body shell. Organic curves functionally represent physical features and disintegrate in a cluster of unidentifiable biomorphic shapes. Playful hints of human limbs or tentacles morph into a fluid sculptural object which offers a natural meeting point of the physical world with a reference to the virtual or surreal realm. Keresztes covers the objects with glossy mosaics of varying hues that bind the context of digital pixels while dynamising the cumbersome and chunky masses. She uses mystical figures to communicate her signature motifs of tears and principles of connection. Occasionally, the loosely thrown ropes transition into tight and suffocating scrummages, reinforcing a complex ambivalent atmosphere.
Titania Seidl (1988, Vienna) presents her visually and ideologically layered oil paintings that communicate a broad spectrum of inspiring sources including historical pre-images, intimate situations, her own observations and, more recently, real dreams (And all the wrakage in their wake, 2023). Be it monumental canvases or miniature paintings on wooden panels, Seidl creates an original twisted reality. The fragmentary records, abstracting motifs and decorative forms are reminiscent of a painterly collage, with each part having its real-life prototype taken out of a different context. We observe disturbing depopulated worlds, though with persisting human trace. The layered narratives and historicising nature arise from direct references. Seidl creates an imaginary memorial to an unknown painter of medieval manuscripts (the exact same sigh through our gritted teeth or the fantasy of ancestry, 2023), seeking inspiration in 19th- century Italian talismans and a Viennese Baroque plague column (30 digits to better read her scripts off their faces, 2023). Just as we struggle to decipher and understand complicated dreams, Seidl's works stimulate our subconsciousness and offer an experience of exploration.
Christof Mascher (1979, Hanover) features with Ghost Rida A2 (Berlin) (2016) – monumental oil on canvas that offers a complex world, unsettling in its ambiguity, similarly to the other works on display. The dreamy landscape painting combines the hustle and bustle of the motorway with abandoned romantic coves; we follow expressive gestures and colours, the artist's micro-stories and symbols. Mascher's paintings resemble book reading – the best way is to move from left to right, thus discovering brand new aspects and layers of the fantasy world in which he works with the subconscious dreaming. We observe delusional perspectives and mysterious, abandoned constructions. Some parts are quite tangible, whilst others are emerging like a memory from a moving train. Is it a real rail track or merely a model train? What about that tree in the centre of the highway? Is it real, or merely a product of microsleep during a night travel, when seated in the opposite direction of the motion?
An obese and overgroomed hairless cat sitting on the ground and staring into the void (Cat, 2015). This disturbing depiction represents a formal digression in the work of Adam Šakový (1987, Zvolen) – an artist with primary focus on conceptually tuned hyper- and photorealistic painting. He uses it to contemplate the possibilities of portraying and examining the depicted context, creating visual traps that support the ambiguity of the scenes. Šakový oscillates around the fine line between what is alive and what life merely resembles. On this occasion, the humorous interpretation also raises questions about the current environmental catastrophe. The selected painting from the latest Fire 6 (2023) series, which draws on the omnipresent and pervasive sense of work burnout, the endless flow of problem-solving missions or flares of interpersonal passions and emotions also feeds to the conflicting emotions. Šakový portrays an anonymous safe place with no danger of being burned, though with no sense of comfort either. With a simple scene, he raises many questions and antagonistic feelings.
Eliška Konečná (1992, Dobřichovice) has developed an original style in a relatively short time: she combines traditional crafts, simple symbolism and allegorical narrative as communicated through stylised figurative compositions manoeuvring between the atmosphere of dream and awakening. She uses hand embroidery to build haptic textile reliefs that catch an eye with expressive physicality and intense materiality, while remaining subtle and ascertaining themselves against the traps of contemporary trends. In Green Vessel (2022), Konečná communicates an intimate scene of water reflection on a small surface of emerald velvet through soft, baroque-tinged concave–convex lines. In the recent period she has started to work with the metaphor of human being as a vessel shaped by external influences.
Hypnotic gazes of the robust figures in the works of Berlin-based painter Jinhee Kim (1990, Seoul) draw us into sleepy melancholy, emphasising the power of non-verbal communication. Simple figurative compositions depict female protagonists in unfamiliar spaces. The emphasis is on gestures, expressions and small interior details that are gradually uncovering the shells of the artist's fantasy world, raising many questions. The invisible line between joy and sadness, fulfilment and emptiness becomes significant; a kind of updated, gradually fading smile of Mona Lisa. Kim sculptures bodily volumes, with colour gradients, rigid geometry and invisible light sources.