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ŠTEFÁNIK, GAUGUIN AND TAHITI | Galéria mesta Bratislavy | Allowance organisation of the City of Bratislava, capital of the Slovak Republic


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Pálffy Palace (show Contact)
22. 6. 2006 - 10. 9. 2006


Place: Pálffy Palace GMB

Date: 22.06.2006 – 10.09.2006

Opening: Thursday, 22 June 2006 at 5pm

Curator: Hana Vaškovičová

The exhibition is held in cooperation with the Slovak National Museum in Martin and with the Šariš Gallery in Prešov

“Not forwards, but in any case backwards, because there is an abyss in front of us”....

The genesis of the story of acting of Paul Gaugin in Tahiti is based in the ellipsis of the loss of the centre, in the enigma of search of the miraculous in the unknown and mainly in Gaugin’s intuitive attempt to walk across from the world of escape to the world of belief; in his looking for a centripetal force which would stand against expansion of the emotional emptiness of the modern world.
The primary beginning was the moment when the artist at the end of the one-before-last century left the civilised world, where in the end of the 19th century as a result of the industrialisation all natural communities were falling apart and he moved into the autochthon area of Polynesia which was not endangered by over-socialisation, which was still working on the base of nature. He, being charmed by that world, created art-works which mirror the rudimentary environment and also the artist’s relation to it. On top of that, with their technological innovations, which were appreciated only later by the generation of Picasso and Derrain and then by a number of graphic artists of German Expressionism, they built foundations of the modern world graphic art. Soyez amoureusses, vous serez heureuse, Femmes, animaux et feullage… or other graphic prints from the environment of Tahiti show human in his essence, in the flow of life and the belief in it : most often in acts of love or in pictures of woman as the matriarchal essence of life. The fact that the artist died short after their creation in the surrounding of this country and in arms of one of its women due to an illness which is brought by unsatisfactory civilisation, is a questionable but not an exemplary ending of a story.

The story of Milan Rastislav Štefánik – follows the Gaugin’s story ten years later -it begun in a primary different rudimentary circumstance in a small village under the Bradlo Mountain, in a poor family of an evangelic priest. The fact that Štefánik got to Tahiti had to do with his studies in Paris and further with him being entrusted by the French government to realise astronomical research in Polynesia. Also Štefánik was charmed by that world and by the manifestation of its culture and civilisation. As a result of his feelings he created non-tourist photographs promoting the proud beauty of the people living in this mini – universe and then a collection of a number of things which he consciously collected in the ignition of the awakened collectorship. One of them were also original cuts of Gaugin’s graphic works whose great admirer he became after seeing his exhibition in 1906 in Paris. Štefánik consciously looked for remains from the artist’s stay in Tahiti and the discoveries of left-over form a sculpture and the original matrixes were a rich reward for his attempt. In a difficult way after Štefánik’s tragic death in a plane crash the finds finally got into collections in the Czech Republic. They were sold there to even out debts of his large family. The series of new prints created in Slovakia as well as in the Czech Republic using the cuts in the flow of years because of different motivations (while this exhibition presents only the prints which are at the moment found in the area of Slovakia) show the unceasing sensitivity towards Gaugin’s work in our region… The stories around them are explained in the text by Viliam Mešša in the catalogue from Šariš Gallery in Prešov in 1968, when the re-discovery of Gaugin and Štefánik in Slovakia started.

Gaugin’s escape to Tahiti and the discovery of religion in the joys of an unmediated life is also actual now in the beginning of the 21st century, maybe even more so because the world even more chaotic and split. Small number of messiahs with the potential of Annunciation hides to live on islands. Also by civilisation untouched islands are becoming less and less…

Hana Vaškovičová


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