Group exhibition curated by Michal Stolárik at Mauve in Vienna.
The dreams in which I'm _____ are the best I've ever had
Artists: Alexandra Barth, Filip Dvořák, Martin Kolarov, Marek Kvetan, Jaroslav Kyša, Kristián Németh, Ľubomíra Sekerášová, Adam Šakový
Curated by Michal Stolárik
The lines from a notoriously famous song naturally trigger ambivalent feelings, automatically shifting us into the context of a broken or dream-like reality, experienced mindfucks, true hallucinations, and the absurdity that comes from lived reality. Contrary to the lyrics by British band Tears for Fears, turning our attention to the misery resulting from the bleakness of daily routines, this exhibition draws inspiration from a spectrum of absurd and ungraspable feelings emerging from a formally and ideologically twisted reality.
Surrealistically structured spatial scenery represents a selection of works of Slovak and Czech artists that work with simple but expressive artistic gestures, applied to everyday life forms and objects like architectural elements: trivial components of interiors, readymade objects or live creatures. What we are looking at is, however, not what we are looking at. A quick glance at the selected artworks merely accelerates the imperfection of our senses that underlines the insufficient assessment of the given pieces of information and the links among them. Just imagine you were to read the title and the lead sentence, without paying attention to the whole article.
The curator’s project is an intimate visual essay working with a styled reality inspired by real life. The very nature and depicting capacity of the individual works reject all generally valid convictions, creating a vague line between reality and its faint semblance. Subtle detours and shortcuts open themes of everyday existence, (hyper)realism, symbolism, faith, personal mystification, or playfulness in contemporary art, with an inherent accentuation of the fragility of today’s society.
Alexandra Barth (b. 1989, Malacky) explores the potential of airbrush painting, which she uses for her attentive work with the light and textures of portrayed materials. Barth observes private spaces and details from the interiors of unknown homes through her minimalistic compositions and carved out reality. Through curated selection of her own photographic prototypes she pursues details of furniture or spaces during unfinished reconstructions, discovering dramatization of the everyday.
Filip Dvořák's (b. 1990, Prague) hanging objects are selected from a more complex collection of his artworks, referencing his original short story The Ravine, depicting a lightly dystopic unknown society that has lived for several generations in a gorge created by an unexpected sinking of land subsidence. For years, the inhabitants set their hopes on a moment when their tree – for which they have together cared – grows tall enough to let them experience the world “up there”. Dvořák illustrates the story, filled with symbolism, hope and faith, using fake artifacts created in the gorge, referring to that world’s reality. Splendid wood casing and symbolic forged copper motifs are fictitious ready-mades, taken from the office of their leader.
Earlier cooperation between Dvořák and Martin Kolarov (b. 1993, Kežmarok) is another balance at the edge of fiction and reality. Together they have created a simple but very striking video commentary titled Quality of Post Emotions (2017), reflecting on emotions at the interface of digital and physical reality.
The low-key light installation Peace (2009) by Marek Kvetan (b. 1976, Bratislava) resulted from a combination of his fascination with light, insightful observation skills and the inspiration he draws from the triviality of ordinary days. The artist ingeniously reconfigures reality, using bodies of dead flies grouped into a title with a clear though slightly profaned meaning. The ambivalent situation, a lesson learned from the context of traditional textual conceptualism, combines wit and irony with a strong message for today’s world.
Water (2015 – 2016), a minimalistic object, demonstrates the comprehensive original programme of Jaroslav Kyša (b. 1981, Žilina). In his artwork, Kyša examines symbolism and the physical qualities of various materials, intentionally creating illusions defying the laws of physics. The resulting significant shortcuts in reality accelerate the viewer’s awakening here and now. The absurdity of placing an ordinary glass in the exhibition space is augmented through an illogically tilted water surface. The seeming illusion of frozen time, or perplexity in a perceived situation, opens up a wide spectrum of symbolism and metaphors to the viewer’s interpretations.
Kristián Németh's (b. 1983, Dunajská Streda) artwork is abstracted from his strong ideological line, focused on criticizing the Christian church. His monumental, styled column, inspired by classical ancient morphology, is abstracted to its sculptural form in the new context of the exhibition. Deliberately, Németh’s column loses its supportive function, merely standing tall and still. Under closer inspection, the base loses its relative firmness and stability. From one perspective it’s totally fine, however from other angles a projecting segment catches attention indicating a possible fall. The firm foundation of immortal architecture turns into a useless memorial of our times.
Ľubomíra Sekerášová (b. 1994, Orava) devotes herself primarily to figural painting and drawing, dominated by expressive originality and frequent use of monochromatic colouring. The artist is mesmerized by anything supernatural – sci-fi, witchcraft or myths – which she combines with philosophy, decadence, a dark mood or personal mythology. The scenes take place in wild natural environments, as she concentrates on working with dramatic light. One selected expressive pen-drawing on paper titled Summer Creatures From The Sunset (2015) is an idyllic snapshot from the end of the summer. Persistent examination of the painting reveals disturbing details presaging a twist in mood.
Hyper-realistic depiction of an obese and over-bred cat is a certain formal detour in the works of Adam Šakový (b. 1987, Zvolen). The artist, primarily active in the field of conceptual hyper-realistic painting, tends to use sculptural prototypes of his own or others for his airbrush paintings. However, exhibiting them individually is rather an exception. Even with his alternate medium, he continues to contemplate the possibilities of depicting and evaluating portrayed contingencies, creating visual traps enhancing an ambiguity of scenes, pointing to the imperfection of our senses as unable to differentiate the thin line between what is alive and what a mere semblance of life. Merry representations now combine with questions about the current environmental catastrophe.