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PERMANENT ROMANTICISM EXHIBITION ENCOURAGES DEBATE ON CONTEMPORARY TRENDS IN ART

Top Pick: Helplessly romantic reality

"I THINK that contemporary Slovak society, politics, and culture are very romantic, and so are our ideals," says Richard Gregor, curator of a new exhibition called Permanent Romanticism.
The show, currently on at Bratislava's Pálffy Palace, does not treat "Romanticism" as a historical term but points to manifold romantic aspects that Gregor has found in the works of contemporary artists.
For instance, there are logos of perfumes displayed on the wall that give off a powerful scent, and also pictures from a diary set in pink tapestry. A work created by Andrej Csillág depicts an imaginary excavation of a Minotaur accompanied by fake documentary photographs of the site.


MORAVČÍK's Fighting for Attention.
photo: Ján Svrček

"I THINK that contemporary Slovak society, politics, and culture are very romantic, and so are our ideals," says Richard Gregor, curator of a new exhibition called Permanent Romanticism.

The show, currently on at Bratislava's Pálffy Palace, does not treat "Romanticism" as a historical term but points to manifold romantic aspects that Gregor has found in the works of contemporary artists.

For instance, there are logos of perfumes displayed on the wall that give off a powerful scent, and also pictures from a diary set in pink tapestry. A work created by Andrej Csillág depicts an imaginary excavation of a Minotaur accompanied by fake documentary photographs of the site.

The 14 exhibitors represent a generation of young Slovak artists. Their works, selected because of their romantic themes, offer visitors the chance to explore the newest developments of the Slovak art scene.

"The exhibition could be a starting point for a debate about trends among young artists," says Ivan Jančár, director of Bratislava City Gallery.

Gregor agrees, adding that some of the works of art in the exhibition can be perceived as provocative because they deal with issues like politics and sexuality.

"There will not be guided tours for this exhibition because I would like to let people think for themselves. The exhibition contains several levels of context, which people will read in their own ways. I don't want to tell the people how to look at the art," Gregor says.

The artists have approached the subject by choosing different themes and genres. Besides traditional paintings, drawings, and sculptures, there are also several pieces that use new media.

Dušan Záhoranský's Internet installation gives viewers the impression that they are looking at themselves from the outside. Visitors go inside a booth and are filmed with a web cam that broadcasts their image to the Internet and to a screen in the booth itself.

Another piece, created by Richard Fajnor, is a "home-made video beamer", an enhanced film in which the movements of a folk dancer have been altered to give the impression that the dancer is not touching the ground.

There are also works that are humorous and amusing, like the installation by Michal Moravčík entitled Fighting for Attention (Vynútená pozornosť). Before you get to see the actual sculpture, you have to pass through a narrow corridor whose walls are covered with plastic bags.

"I think humour is a side effect in that work," says Gregor. "[Fighting for Attention] is the opposite of an exterior sculpture, which you can easily see from the distance. In this case, you have to first walk through something that [symbolises] the road one has to walk along in order to see a good sculpture. It is very fine criticism of the kitsch sculptures we can see in our cities."

The Permanent Romanticism exhibition is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00-17:00, until April 6. Admission is Sk40. Pálffy Palace, Panská 19, Bratislava. Tel: 02/5443-3627.

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