The works of Weiner-Kráľ (1901-1978) are today still largely misunderstood.
photo: Courtesy Slovenská národná galéria
"Maybe it was because he was Jewish, or maybe it was because he was influenced by the French, Hungarian and German cultures rather than focusing on Slovak art styles that he was so unappreciated," said Ján Ábelovský, the curator of the Imrich Weiner-Kráľ exhibition being held at the Slovak National Gallery in honour of the 100-year anniversary of the artist's birth. "Simply speaking, he was a lonely runner of Surrealism in Slovak art history. He was left with no contemporaries nor followers."
The exhibition offers an inside look into Weiner-Kráľ's art work from 1925 to 1977, featuring around 150 of his paintings (but also some graphics) with themes ranging from rural landscapes to urban motifs, from nude acts to coffee-drinking scenes. According to Ábelovský, Weiner-Kráľ created his best paintings during the first 20 years of his career, while he lived in Slovakia.
The period from 1930 to 1932 was a pivotal point in Weiner-Kráľ's life, when he first began devoting his artistic energies to surrealist painting. In 1936, he and Czech artist František Malý organised the first Surrealism Exhibition in Slovakia. From 1938 until the 50's, he worked for the Resistance Movement in France before he was deported and sent back to Czechoslovakia. Upon return, he was imprisoned for a year and faded into artistic obscurity.
Weiner-Kráľ's surrealistic paintings are still widely misunderstood, as is explained in the exhibition's brochure: "Unclear definitions ranged from 'the surrealism of Weiner-Kráľ's vision' to 'Slovak poeticism' preferred by the artist. This is a signal that [his] surrealist painting was internally contradicting, connected externally with the principles of surrealism."
The exhibition is located on the third floor of the Slovenská Národná Galéria (Slovak National Gallery) at Esterházyho palác (Esterházy Palace) on Námestie Ľudovíta Štúra (Ľudovít Štúr Square) in the Bratislava Old Town. Admission is 10-20 Sk. For more information, call 02/ 5443-2081-2.
By Zuzana Habšudová