Beyond Perfection

New exhibition of the AFAD graduates Beyond Perfection in the NBS Gallery

NBS Gallery
I. Karvaša 1, Bratislava 

Exhibiting artists: Leontína Berková - Marek Cina - Adam Šakový

Curator: Miroslava Urbanová

We always somehow subconsciously expect a kind of meticulous precision from artists, reworking their works down to the smallest detail. On the one hand, we are ready to be stunned and at the same time carefully examine the contents, forms, media and materials they work with, compare them with what we already know - especially from the endless, tangled and often wannabe chopped reference chain of art history. Sometimes this process is similar to knowledge bingo, which is then confirmed or refuted by subtracting the title of the work from an adjacent label. A more interesting moment comes when something does not fit us in the seemingly familiar and perfectly functioning, it begins to provoke our imagination, when we look for a reason why this is so. When we start researching how it happens.

Adam Šakový's cycle of paintings entitled Stones plays out, unlike its material name, the strings of a complex tangle of artistic-historical contexts. What we first recognize are the outlines in the paintings of the reproduced Hellenistic and Baroque sculptures. Some painters capture from several angles, as if for a moment reviving the old dispute over the direct in art between the discipline of painting and sculpture. In the foreground however, plastically rendered pieces of rock, which so symbolically narrative, sensual and highly emotional themes are pushed into the background, are strangely borne. The athletic and virtuous ideals of mythological figures and saints, which once reflected the desirable inner qualities, manifested on the magnificently worked surface of works of art, give way to the material essence of stone, their own primordial essence. The unworked rock, as if embodying the essence of human creativity, has become the cornerstone of the pursuit of the power of artistic expression that comes to us in a moment of contrast when we find something that does not fit, something that casts a special shadow.

Marek Cina's series of seven cardinal virtues does not formally follow the canon of traditional Christian iconography, although he refers directly to it with the original Latin names of the individual virtues. Cina's work is also in a way a deception, the model for the finally realized, popular and plastic-looking risographies were shapes cut out of paper. The form of the mask is also an interesting choice in this case. Although the mask anonymizes in some way, it also offers the subject a new identity. However, it usually frees him from conventions, gives him the space to become someone else and act in a way that may not normally be compatible with his inner values. Cina's masks, on the other hand, refer to the unattainable ideal that remains forever in the realm of aspirations. Their performance on the verge of comicism, deliberately and eloquently exaggerating the key features more towards some kind of animal portraits, is a playful author's reinterpretation of a serious theme.

Leontína Berková has long been researching the medium of photography. She is the author of seemingly banal, but at the same time very factual and analytical photographs. In her projects, she explores the possibilities of depicting spatial and material reality through a two-dimensional medium, often as if in a kind of camouflage. At the same time, she is interested in consumption in its everyday, but also excessive form, luxurious marble design, consumption as a concept that is unique only to people. In the surprisingly plein-air series Golden Ratio, Berková decided to take pictures directly in the set. Even in this case, however, it is a man-curated environment with carefully manipulated natural elements. In addition, the title of the series referring to the mathematical concept of perfect proportions (as well as works of art) is again more than a literal realization of a commentary on the human effort to transform oneself and one's surroundings into a perfect image. The artist's interventions, however aesthetically satisfying and balanced, are an ingenious disruption of environments that are only an illusion of something natural, a reference to abstract ideas more than to real objects.

Miroslava Urbanová

Leontína Berková (* 1992) is a graduate of the Department of Photography and New Media at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. During her studies, she completed an internship at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and at the Strzemiński Academy of Art Łódź. In 2020, she received a scholarship to participate in the International Summer Academy in Salzburg and also won an open call for inclusion in the online archive project Secondary Archive, dedicated to women artists from Eastern and Central Europe. Solo exhibitions: 2019 Theories of Stage (with Dávid Biró), VUNU, Košice Slovakia, My thoughts have been replaced by Beyoncé lyrics, Phoinix. Group exhibitions (selection): 2021 Fog, FOG Gallery, Bratislava; Talking Hands, Ján Koniarek Gallery, Trnava, 2020 Smoke & Mirrors, Medium, Bratislava, 2018 At the First Glance, ABC, Bratislava, KEBABB 17, Považská Gallery of Art in Žilina. Her works regularly appear at the OFF photography festival in Bratislava.

Marek Cina (* 1987) is a graduate of the Studio of Free Printmaking and Illustration at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. He is a successful graphic artist and illustrator, and regularly participates in workshops, art and literary festivals in Slovakia and abroad. Solo exhibitions (selection): 2021 Sunday Palette, Vojtech Löffler Museum, Košice, 2020 Mr.Cina & WEEDO, Bohéma Gallery, Bratislava, 2019 I haven't shared that yet, Fuga, Bratislava, 2018 Paper masks, T-Gallery Bratislava. Group exhibitions (selection): 2014 Diversity required (65th anniversary of VŠVU in Bratislava), SNG, Bratislava, 2013 Triennial of Book Art, Turčianska Gallery, Martin, 2013 SUPERMARKET 2013 - Stockholm Independent Art Fair, 2013 2nd International Biennial of Drawing and Graphic Arts , Györ.

Adam Šakový (* 1987) is a graduate of the department of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. In 2015 he became a finalist in Painting - VUB Foundation Award for Young Artists, in 2013 a finalist in the ESSL Art Award. He is represented as an artist by the SODA Gallery, Bratislava. Solo exhibitions (selection): 2021 Nerast, Ján Koniarek Gallery, Trnava, 2020 When a Shadow Casts a Shadow, Central Slovak Gallery, Banská Bystrica, 2019 Can’t see forest for the trees, Soda Gallery, Bratislava. Group exhibitions (selection): 2020 Anthroporary, Ján Koniarek Gallery, Trnava, 2016 February in the Moon - Sorting Ascendants, IndustraArt, Brno, 2015 Triennial of a Small Object and Drawings, Jozef Kollár Gallery, Banská Štiavnica, 2014 Past-Present-Past, Karlín Studios , Prague.

The exhibition entitled Beyond Perfection is also a continuation of the cooperation of the National Bank of Slovakia with the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. Since 2020, the NBS Gallery has been regularly presenting the works of students and graduates of the academy. Exhibition projects bring together various forms of contemporary art.