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

Furta Sacra | Galéria mesta Bratislavy | Allowance organisation of the City of Bratislava, capital of the Slovak Republic


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The City Gallery of Bratislava is an allowance organisation of the City of Bratislava, capital of the Slovak Republic.


Furta Sacra

Authors: Mária Čorejová, Oliver McConnie, Markus Selg, Laco Teren a Miroslav Pomichal
Pálffy Palace (show Contact)
4. 9. 2018 - 11. 11. 2018
Curator: Miroslav Pomichal

Furta Sacra is an exhibition of small-scale paintings and works on paper by Maria Corejova, Oliver McConnie, Markus Selg, Laco Teren and Miroslav Pomichal. It is conceived and curated by Miroslav Pomichal.

The project is particularly suited and conceived with the GMB in mind: its exhibition space, with its historic weight, its massive window recesses, its intricate wooden floor patterning, but also its whitewashed walls and current function, lends itself to both the conceit of a kunstkammer and a determination to enable past material culture to act as an enabler of the present.

The exhibition aims to challenge the myth that ambition is directly proportional to physical scale. Scale, indeed, is overwhelmingly present in their work: but it is the scale of the imaginary, the worlds, and constructions, possibilities and references that these works abound in.

The artists are marked by their enthrallment with history; their evident acknowledgment that the symbolisms, kabbalas, and world-meanings of the past have been dismantled; they study them with a sense of loss, an antiquarian’s relish, reflecting on folly. And yet, this exploration is undertaken without a trace of cynicism (or sentimentality), rather a mixture of wistfulness, curiosity, grudging respect for the thing in itself, and indeed with hope for a reconciliation of European history with its vision of the future.

The radical nature of the exhibition relies not merely on an absence of irony or the cynical. The scale, format, techniques and themes conspire to tackle an essential and increasingly urgent question facing contemporary art and culture: is it valid, desirable, or necessary to make artwork that not only positions itself within a once-hegemonic art historical canon, is it feasible that a leap forward is to be achieved by stepping back? Is it possible to have digested the lessons and legacies of Modernism, Conceptualism, Minimalism and Post-Modernism, and then renew the idea of the easel picture (and indeed, go further to medieval embroidery, or Assyrian friezes), to reimbue with significance the ruined monuments of the past, not through reproduction, appropriation, or commentary, but through becoming: becoming something new by becoming the same once more?

The artists in this exhibition, at its most fundamental level, work in the traditions of Pisanello, Giorgone, Chardin, William Blake, Samuel Palmer, Cezanne, Franz Radziwill or Lee Lozano. That is, ‘Sunday Painters’, when seen in relation to the material requirements of the art industry. In another sense, they are anything but. They have reduced their scale, their material options as it were, in order to pursue private visual and symbolic riddles – which often paradoxically emerge as somehow of universal significance. The visual density, sophistication, and smallness of their work never could in the past, nor the present, cater for the needs of an industry. But their need and yearning for understanding have, by different paths, led them to re-appraise the tradition of the still-life (as visual and symbolical relations between objects), landscape (as metaphysics), of the mark (as a Cezannian ‘equivalence’) and of the Scylla and Charybdis of continuity and progress. Their acceptance of such limitations, in defiance of a prevailing world-mood of a doubtful liberty, creates the framework and the focus through which their work glows with a concentrated power.

The works have graphic, descriptive, abstract and symbolic qualities that are hyper-aware of their historical anchorage in the medieval allegories, woodcuts of the German Kleine Meister, the tiny revolutions of the Russian Constructivists,  the metaphysical landscapes of the Surrealists or  the work of Modernist artists during their ‘turn to the Classic’ in the 1920s. These are often juxtaposed, digested or amalgamated, for instance in the surprisingly rich formal affinities between plate armour and the spatial and surface studies of Synthetic Cubism. Inevitably, they are also inflected by the great visual eminence grise of our generation – the grotesque (and already dated) forms and spaces of 1970s and 1980s sci-fi and fantasy. Although aware of their position as the products of contemporary artists, the artworks seem almost by the force of their visual qualities alone, to tentatively aspire to the possibility of a transcendental potential of form: that these forms somehow believe in their own nature as conduits to a more solid beyond, even more solid and surefooted because cracked, ruined and broken.  In one sense, the artists assembled here are engaged in a sort of plunder of the past; but like the furta sacras of the Middle Ages, it is of an eminently pious kind.




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Mária Čorejová, Oliver McConnie, Markus Selg, Laco Teren a Miroslav Pomichal

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