Slovak Graphics of the 20th Century
The Mirbach Palace
06.12.2007 - 02.03.2008
The story of Slovak graphic art of the 20th century may be characterised as a fascinating journey packed with individual life-stories, a kind of "intimate mirror", reflecting an era of contradictions and their mutual interactions. In spite of and against great odds, the creativity and internal freedom of Slovak artists affected the evolution of this topic. Many artists exceeded the barriers of time and space, while others rather sank into their private world, in order to create an image of their very own inner-world. While some of these artists successfully integrated into the context of the European and Non-European fine arts, many of them discovered new forms of graphic thinking merely in the intimate environments of their ateliers, without pertinent (and in many cases desired and necessary)broad confrontation; others yet gained the recognition they deserved at the end of their lives.
The 20th century was a period full of turnovers, tensions and paradoxes. Unlike in the 19th century, when the artist was perceived to be an ideal depicter of an objectifiable truth of the spirit, situated beyond event reality, artists of the 20th century discovered the relativity of their personal statements (e.g. by experimenting with imaging means, by testing new gestures in statements communicating their inner world, as well as by reflecting the definition of the subject in objectifiable categories, such as space, area, colour, movement, light effects, haptic quality and change).
For more than half of those long 100 years, the possibilities of free artistic expression were very restricted in Slovakia, but as we can see, both periods - the period of freedom, as well as the period of oppression – produced real artistic personalities.
Slovak graphic art gradually crystallised into a specific phenomenon. Here we can find stories of courage, humbleness, desire for freedom, but also stories of silent meditation, solitaire screams, introspective stories without significant ambitions or those broaching the sunnier aspects of life at the time, albeit (from the historical point of view) for a short time. Slovak graphic art saw its peaks and falls. However we may see it, we simply cannot deny its significance in context of the developmentof fine arts. From our present point of view, many of its forms could seem conservative to us, while others remain virtually timeless. All of them were created in a specific time, in specific circumstances and conditions, with particular connections and in a particular environment.
It was not easy to select the authors for this exhibition. The original intention of selecting just the most relevant authors seemed rather insufficient to us from the aspect of the comprehensive development of this issue - as if lacking an integral statement. There were so many questions to ask. What about choosing solely graphics as a dominant medium or only including important artists making graphics just marginally? To what a degree should we extend the list of graphic artists? Where should we set the tiny separation line between the use of inspirational sources and individual creative contribution? Where is the separation line between art and non-art? This aforementioned separation line is actually hard to set.
When conceptualizing this exhibition, we have tried to choose works of higher significance in the context of those authors, most reflective of Slovak graphic art of their respective period. For this reason, but especially due to the limited extent of this publication, we have finally decided not to include exlibris works and postage stamps, constituting specific fields of graphics, which deserve to be dealt with separately.
Also important was our continuous communication with still-living authors, who completed and amended facts wrongfully taken from previous sources. Some of their observations were even as yet unrecorded thus far, at least in this form and this extent.
Ivan Jancar, curator
|January 9, 2008