Joy of Blood Bond
Artists: Jana Farmanová, Monika Kubinská & Erna Masarovičová
Curator: Ivana Moncoľová
Duration: 7.6. - 2.7.2017
The exhibition displays two contemporary artists – painter Jana Farmanová (1970), painter
and sculptor Monika Kubinská (1966), and late sculptor Erna Masarovičová (1926 – 2008).
The theme of the exhibition The Joy of Blood Bond reflects introspection, and the immersion
into and their inspiration by the artists’ families and motives that are close to their hearts.
Each woman depicted this subject in her own way – as encoded symbols or repeated,
multiplied motives, creating her own iconography. Each author has processed her thoughts
about the histories collected, lived through or discovered in her own way.
Rather than being a reason for unbridled joy, in Central Europe, the topic of family history
tends to elicit discomfort. Blood ties and relations between individual family members shape
our view of our own identity. Each family in Central Europe somehow mirrors the historically
loaded 20th century. Rather than giving us reasons for feeling self-conscious, it has tainted
us, with imprints of political theories and ideologies and a sense of political and historical
discontinuity. At family gatherings, there are always topics that are automatically excluded
from discussions taking place at the family table. Uncharted family territories are the reason
why the arduous task of untangling the threads of family history is usually tackled by the
next generation; it is their mission to resolve the disagreements and traumas of the previous
The discovering of one’s own family history should be seen as the foundation of own
identity, as a space for creation, keystone of human identity, providing a framework to a
moment in history, grounding it into the present or perhaps offering a solution or catharsis.
Knowing our own history enables us to be au courant, to get one’s bearings in fast-paced
times full of changes, to keep our own integrity intact.
The word ‘joy, which is part of the exhibition title, has a double meaning in this context – it
should convey a certain exaggeration but is also meant to denote the possibility of keeping a
positive outlook on life. Deciphering family history, maintaining a healthy mental presence
enables us to keep our aims in life current and steer away from being dragged down by
temporary skepticism. For us, future is not forlorn just because it is overcrowded with the
past. Working with one’s own personal history in a place like Central Europe should help us
to establish continuity, be it in the family, historical events or art (here even more so, as it
area had been ostracized).
The name and the leitmotif of the exhibition were devised after the curator, Ivana
Moncoľová, saw the new paintings of Jana Farmanová; they worked with historic family
photos. They portray and connect people close to the painter; she duplicates certain
motives as well as portraits, in which she depicts other family members. During the second
visit at the atelier of Monika Kubinská, who also works with political themes, Moncoľová’s
attention was caught by the recurrence of the motive of čepiec, women’s headdress, a
symbol of woman, her husband’s mother. The motive has reappeared in many of her
paintings over several years as an ever present ghost, as a symbol, its image often reduced
to mere outlines, adorned by intricate lace almost always cream-colored and almost
tangible. Once you look at the painting, it is clear that the civil (home) environment of both
painters strongly permeates their work. Whether it’s a keepsake in the form of the
headdress or the nightgowns of female ancestors, all of them personal effects (in some
cultures referred to as paraphernalia/personal items of a married woman), or boxes full of
black and white photos, which she examines in order to find out where our own features
come from, it is motive enough.
The inclusion of Erna Masarovičová, a significant sculptor, establishes a continuum. The
choice of the late sculptor (1926 – 2008) and her work, has been significant for us. The
reason why she chose the topics she did is often unclear, and although she kept notes, she
chose understated topics like couples and duplicated motives, portraits of specific people –
they have artistic force and employ a distinct artistic language.
Although this artistic approach does not strictly use “female themes”, the authors do not
explicitly tackle big political issues or activism (with the exception of Monika Kubinská, who
worked with her husband Bohuš Kubinský on most of the cultural and political themes).
Neither do they reflect important historical twists and turns. Instead, they intuitively draw
inspiration from their own personal experiences and family history.
Of course, this interpretation is supported by conversations, the perception and study of
materials; each of the artists has her own artistic language shaped by her thinking and
intuition – a feeling that what she has created has a certain direction and strives to achieve a
We know that the heritage of an average Central European family contains several, often
opposing confessions, including in families of fierce atheists; they often reflect political
discord but also individual stories of people who had to overcome these conflicts. If each of
us would look at his own history, we may find something similar. That said, pinpointing
certain details of the authors’ lives does not mean we are able to fully identify the alchemy
of the story behind each of the paintings exhibited, and that is, in fact not necessary. We are
shaped by individual and collective memory, education, and intellect. Artistic creation is also
a form of an irrational premonition, which inspires the artists when creating their works.
The one big common denominator of the works of all three artists (whether or not working
alone or with somebody else or inspired by the histories of others), is making testimonies
and remembering the history. These authors do not make a big fuss over it, it’s in their
attitude, it’s an expression of their internal integrity, the ethical dimension of their art.
Originally, the name of the exhibition The Joy of Blood Bond, followed by the names of the
artists Jana Farmanová, Monika Kubinská, and Erna Masarovičová, contained an addendum -
“and others”. It referenced other authors, both living and dead, because their creation was
also shaped by their own personal experiences and family history. We are aware of that fact,
we recognize and draw from the tradition, imagination and work of other artists.
The exhibition is accompanied with the catalogue The Joy of Blood Bond - Jana Farmanová,
Monika Kubinská & Erna Masarovičová.
The Exhibition is supported with Bratislavský samosprávny kraj (Bratislava's Self-governing
Region fund) and using public funding by Slovak Arts Council (www.fpu.sk)