Finalist’s exhibition of Oskár Čepan Award 2020

Finalist’s exhibition of Oskár Čepan Award 2020

Ludmila Hrachovinová, Daniela Krajčová, Kristián Németh, Jozef Pilát

Curators: Viktor Čech and Lucia Gavulová

September 30 – December 6 2020, New Synagogue, Žilina, Slovakia

The contemporary Slovak society is a community full of contradictions. It has been enjoying the time of historic prosperity, while at the same time being painfully polarized in the understanding of its past, present, and future. Should we want to look for something specific in this year’s finals of the Oskár Čepan Award, it is precisely the way in which each of the artists involves the social standpoint in their work. They do it on different levels, yet thanks in part to this, the whole of the exhibition gives the impression of an interesting look at the possibilities of approach of contemporary Slovak art to individual spectators, specific communities, and the society in whole. Some of the artists place their oeuvres in relation to the role of tradition or rural countryside while others investigate the community’s memory and conscience. A substantial theme that reaches beyond the scope of art is then definitely the present day position of mothers, and even with such seemingly autonomous topic as the physical relation between painting and its spectator we can ultimately discern a challenge to take a more active human stand.

Daniela Krajčová’s quietly ambitious project engages with people to create experi-mental documentaries that use media like drawing and painting, together with anima-tion and installation. Communities become active participants in the making and dis-semination of the work. Slovakian nurses in Austria, immigrants, people with memories of Jewish plight in national camps, all tell their story. With a casual, yet rich palette, spontaneous eye, and lively lines testifying to moving biographies, Krajčová’s attuned painterly style and social engagement become inseparable, making accessibility a political value, and embodied witnessing a communal one.

Jozef Pilát found the attention of the jury with the consistency of his artistic language and the ability to grasp and condense local narratives, drawn from his native village of Šunava, into precise sculptural gestures. His work represents a kind of ‘collision’ of a utopia with a dystopia, a place with a non-place, a sense with a non-sense. It is ac-companied by a subtle irony reflecting and twisting established cultural patterns.

Ludmila Hrachovinová’s painterly practice speaks to contemporary discussions around the ‘dissolution‘ and ‘extension‘ of the medium of painting by relating it to its physical surroundings and the bodies of people spending time with it. These experi-ments stirred up the jury’s curiosity to experience them on site. By way of conjoining painterly surface and performative bodies in space, Hrachovinová maintains that a casual glance won’t do, that painting, like dance, may be a time-based art, so the dura-tion of being with the piece greatly matters.

Kristián Németh presents poised meditations on the embedded nature of Catholicism within contemporary Slovakian society, his work operates across media in pared down installations. His iconography ranges from religion to fashion; his flesh, from victim to saint. With an extraordinary refinement of material means and allegorical density, the artist gives life to the erotic body which the church would otherwise enclose, erase, desecrate or de-ny. His work incorporates architecture and site as additional building blocks to his sensual explorations.

Viktor Čech

Foto: Cena Oskára Čepana – Richard Kohler