Bratislava City Gallery ­– Allowance organisation of the City of Bratislava, capital of the Slovak Republic

Juraj Meliš | Galéria mesta Bratislavy | Allowance organisation of the City of Bratislava, capital of the Slovak Republic


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Juraj Meliš

Pálffy Palace (show Contact)
30. 1. 2007 - 25. 3. 2007
Curator: Ivan Jančár

Juraj Meliš is known as a spontaneous author gifted with inner strength which has always forced him to start and finish work almost without any preparation in one big breath. His now presented projects are stirring, natural but also free so much so that surely many will not identify with him. In the same way, like in the time of their creation they did not identify with his previous works like Environments, or largely drawn up cycles Idea, Help, Monologues, Dialogues, Looking for identity or Gardens of Eden. His newest project does not picture like Environments, (Countryside courtyard, Courtyard of Life, 1970) on the outside a quite idyllic, but insistently symbolic village and it also does not have the urgent ecological appeal against destruction of nature like the Environment II (Forrest of Life, 1972). Let us remember that both of them were realized without a straight picturing of a human who has left only negative results of his activities.

To be more concrete – Juraj Meliš works on the cycle Lejdýs and Džentlmen since 2004. Especially for this exhibition it was comprised in a more complex way. If he already in the Environments symbolically tied to Duchamp’s legacy of promoting usual or found and often also useless objects as artworks, in the cycle Lejdýs and Džentlmen he is even more natural and he reduces the level of classical artistic input to a minimum. Lejdýs and Džentlmen is a continuation of his diary and according to his words here is “the whole humanity is reduced to a few outlines of bog pictograms…while that, it is still not sure, if this “splendid” sign degrades at all in a sufficient way the already mentioned sample of losers who found themselves in a super absurd and snobbish septic tank!”. In the same clamant way as in his previous artworks, he names the traumas of today. It is picturing of all vices, layering of dirt of human relationships and reduction of a human to his basic needs in showing the surrounding world changing into a big building site, with its mess and chaos, which becomes a permanent part of our life. From this big dump of human kind he portrays the state of demolishing and building at the same time. According to his words it is the “exterior of building process in progress”. However, it is not just by any chance that Juraj Meliš uses here for example old supports, boards, columns but also used old doors and windows from his house. Windows which used to divide the outer world from the intimacy of the home, windows which have stopped serving so they would change their function and would become a component of a new creative act and doors which inside used to outline everybody’s own space and at the same time were connecting them all. Not only the existential interconnection between a human and nature disappears here, even the character of an urban human with his vision of a new existence is changing. We keep forgetting the feeling from a beautiful cessation in time with a concentrated perception of the given moment. If he used to picture the character of the environment which used to surround us, in his new project he basically points at the absence of that environment and a graduating feeling of anonymity. The spectator walks between individual fragments and in this way he becomes a part of an estranged environment in an environment.
Also the next part of the exhibition Dies Irae is in the same way urgent; from the point of view of the human existence it is even more urgent. It exhibits models of explosives wrapped into silky textiles with Arabic prints and with ticking clocks which mercilessly measure time. They are not only abstract terms but concrete dramatic situations; they are not only sophistic reflections but basic moral principles, questions of lives and deaths of innocent people.
Basically in both installations the feeling of being endangered is evident. It is a sense caused by changing civilization, changing value criteria, changing environment and changing certainties. It is also a foreboding of the day of God’s anger – it means of the last judgement or also the beginning of a requiem. The sense of danger is evident and urgent but it is nothing else than a result of everyday situations in which we find ourselves immediately or vicariously and of course with a vision for the future.

Ivan Jančár, director of the gallery,
curator of the exhibition

Author’s biographical data:

He was born on July 13 in 1942 in Nové Zámky. 1960-1966 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava (Prof. Jozef Kostka). In the years 1973-1993 he worked as external teacher at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. Since 1990 he works as a teacher at AFAD in Bratislava. In 1991 he was named to be associated professor, in 1992 he became professor. He is involved in free sculpting, monumental creation, drawing and graphic arts. He is one of the establishing members of the grouping Gerulata. In the years 1999-2002 he was the head of the Department of Sculpting. Except for others, he organised some exhibitions of students of Jozef Kostka, he participated on many albums. He had a few individual exhibitions home and abroad, he took part in a number of important collective exhibitions in Slovakia and abroad. A number of articles and studies were published about his creation, in the years 1993 and 2003 monographs were published about his work (authors: Katarína Bajcurová and Ivan Jančár). Juraj Meliš lives and works in Bratislava.


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