SODA gallery VOLTA 13 Basel
Jaro VARGA, Stano FILKO, Lucia TALLOVA
SODA gallery (Bratislava, booth D12) harnesses the artistic power of creation and destruction at VOLTA13 via a cross-generational survey of three key Slovakian artists. Jaro Varga (pictured) and Lucia Tallová are two bright young stars with blossoming careers at home and abroad. Varga’s deftness in channeling location (whether by recontextualizing found objects or choreographing movement) and Tallová’s encyclopedic, “bildungsroman-like” series, position them among the best of the current Slovakian scene. Their presentations are matched by key archival works by late avant-garde pioneer Stano Filko, whose decades-long oeuvre included singular showings at documenta 7 and the 2005 Venice Biennale. As essayed by Jan Verwoert for e-flux Journal in 2011, “Filko’s work […] challenges us to grasp how the specific use of mundane materials and signs coexists with techniques of claiming totality within one practice, and how that practice acquires its critical edge (and power to sustain itself in the face of political oppression) by consummating the marriage of metaphysics and pragmatism.”
Stano FILKO (1937-2015)
Stano Filko is an historical figure of the Eastern Avant garde from Slovakia. By 1964 he began designing environments and then joined the group "Happsoc" (contraction of Happy Socialism), formed around Zita Kostrova and Alexander Mlynarčík, who developed a local form of object happenings. Much of their activities were inspired by contact with the New Realists in Paris, including Pierre Restany and Yves Klein. He is part of the generation of artists who caused an upheaval in the relatively conservative cultural environment of Slovakia in the mid-1960s. In addition to SF, artists such as Alex Mlynárčik, Július Koller, Peter Bartoš and Jana Želibská appeared on the scene and clearly followed the trends of the art schools from around the world and in the process successfully created their original and personal versions.
WHITE series: dedicated to meditations on absolute transcendence (or the transcendence of the absolute), these works also advance a technique of complete erasure. In Filko’s collaboration with Miloš Laky and Ján Zavarský, entitled Biely priestor v bielom priestore (White Space in a White Space, 1974), for instance, the piece is an installation composed of different elements, mostly white pieces of fabric laid out on the floor where sculpture might stand or installed on the wall where paintings might hang (an exhibition of designated absences). One key piece in the overall ensemble was a large-scale scroll which, instead of writing, has a layer of bright white fabric on its inside. Some documentation photos show it partially unrolled on the floor. In the context of the installation, however, it was fully spread out across adjacent gallery walls. Biblical in its connotations, the use of a scroll would seem to suggest that some form of holy scripture is being presented; and indeed this is what it may be, only that this scripture contains no gospel, but rather testifies to the truth of (its own) total erasure, invoking a state of complete whiteout. This could imply a state of bliss, yet equally one of painful annihilation.
Jaroslav Varga is a commentator on creation and destruction. He enjoys seeking out subtle details of what is lost, and systematically looks after what is just being born.
The work is also a manipulation, but rather than concepts like coercion or violence, he opens the question of alternative approaches to history and the freedom of an artist to independently handle both its material and spiritual remains. Already in one of his earlier implementations, Varga dealt with the derelict military zone of Milovice, situated north of Prague, where four armies took turns during the last century: Austrian-Hungarian, Czechoslovak, German and Soviet. The artist proposed a project for the MeetFactory in which he intuitively and rather surrealistically complements parts of objects found in those locations, putting them in a new context. He constructs a novel vision of an ephemeral future for these relics, somewhat charged with force or even sexual connotations.
Lucia Tallová (1985)
has for some years belonged to one of distinctive figures on the Slovak contemporary art scene, acknowledged by her peculiar painting style, characteristic motif of sentimental landscape, monochromatic colour, and precise technique.
“Before the beginning, after the end” is the latest series of author which presents a new and so far the most complex cycle of paintings, collages and objects with an overlap to painting. The title of the series casts a hint to an unclear situation which had already happened or is about to cave in. It slowly immerses us in a story. Smoke, dust, flying ash, stoic peace, a stormy sky, empty city, spilled out water-table, symbols of the apocalypse.
Inhuman architecture, horizons in contrast, play of perspectives, freezing nothingness. Never-ending black and white landscapes intersecting with the dramatic vault and creating a mysterious tension before the storm. Lucia´s paintings are a time-laps of nostalgic landscapes which are seizing to listen to an unspoken lyrical tale. Dynamic abstract watercolor sections alternate with realistic architecture and fragments of romantic lace depicted just in a touch like a recognized raster giving the required depth to space. Lucia´s advancement in monochrome is visible when looking at the custardy pink horizons which underline the femininity and sweetness of nostalgic memories even stronger. Multiplied by application of old family photographs, they create rather personal archive of author´s fictive memories of places which she had never visited.
Rhythm of static lands is emphasized with changing formats just like particular themes they describe, from wide-screen views of the landscape to “zoomed” cut-outs of the stormy clouds or spilled water level. We are gradually getting along from intimate minimalistic collages to wide scale plane where the black flowing parts shift to white rhythmic pauses. In playing with perspective, layering and finding surprising depth in pieces, achieved in fold of the layers flashing in various definition, just like watching an unclear land through an objective of a camera.
Particles of burnt paper emerging from the canvas, black leakage, ribbons, pools of colour, spilled paper, are parts of natural progress regards to last decorative elements of lace, rose, pearl or a tear ― apparent references to femininity, romanticism and sentiment, so typical of Lucia.