THOUGH Miroslav Cipár is a renowned Slovak illustrator and graphic artist, the Bratislava City Gallery (GMB) is focusing on another aspect of his work: dozens of the artist’s paintings, as well as objects and assemblages, are currently exhibited in 11 rooms of the gallery’s Pálffy Palace.
Miroslav Cipár, 78, began painting more seriously in the mid 1960s, but after an exhibition in the GMB in 1966, which he thought to be unpleasant and hastily prepared, he donated most of those works and painted over the rest of them. Repainting his own older works, and also using and recycling everyday items have remained dominant themes in his work, GMB head Ivan Jančár wrote in the accompanying text.

At the end of the 1960s, Cipár made several assemblages. After a period devoted primarily to graphic art and a stronger focus on social activities, including teaching amateur and disabled artists, he returned to painting in the early 1980s.

Several of his paintings (starting with 1994 and ending with the Viennese Gold in 2008) were influenced by the “gilded” style of Viennese Art Deco. Other works that stem from various years but are collected in one room, are assemblages of re-used materials from his family home, which are connected with his family’s history.

Cipár’s work has become increasingly minimalistic. In the new millennium, he started experimenting with vaguely identifiable figures in his pieces – evoking headless human figures, and flirting with abstract art.

In 2004-2007, Cipár approached the realm of geometrical abstraction, or even purist expression. One of his most impressive recent works is the painting Sem..., which narrates the story of his father. Cipár Senior was captured along with 21 other men from the village of Semeteš during the Second World War and shot in the head by the Russian Liberation Army. Miraculously, he survived the shooting and managed to make his way back home, where he relayed the news of the deaths of the other men. This event is captured in the painting, which incorporates the names and ages of the men who were killed, and the date of the shooting, along with symbolic figures.

The texts – all in Slovak and English – accompanying the exhibition say that Cipár has lately managed to do the opposite of what has happened to several of his peers: they gradually started creating less inspired variations of their earlier work. Thus, it is interesting to see work from many phases of his decade-spanning career collected in one place, which allows the viewer to see how his work developed over time.

The exhibition, called simply Miroslav Cipár – Maľba / Painting, curated by Jančár, can be seen on the second floor of the Pálffy Palace at Panská 19 until March 2, daily except for Mondays. A bilingual book of the same name accompanies the exhibition, with 265 pages of colour reproductions and biographical photos, costing €45.

On Thursday, February 27 at 16:00, the painter will make a personal appearance at the exhibition and comment on his works and their background.