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LEADER OF AMATEUR WOODCARVERS, STANO PEKÁR, IS ALWAYS READY TO EXPERIMENT

Walking the road less travelled

WHEN he was a young man, Stano Pekár played football and later represented Czechoslovakia as a boxer. In addition to his aptitude for sports, he also has an artistic side and has been taking photographs throughout his life, winning several photographic contests along the way. And besides all this, he is a keen experimenter with woodcarving.
"I've always tried to excel, to be the first, to create something new," says Pekár, a native of the western Slovak town of Unín who heads an association of amateur woodcarvers called SPOROFA, or the Association of Expanded Fantasy (Spoločnosť rozvinutej fantázie).
Until the end of April, the works of 18 artists from the association will be on display in a show entitled Shapes of Wood in the Villa Rustica Gallery at Dom kultúry Dúbravka in Bratislava.


THE DANCER-LIKE birds were exhibited at Bratislava Zoo last year on Bird Day, April 1.
photo: Stano Pekár

WHEN he was a young man, Stano Pekár played football and later represented Czechoslovakia as a boxer. In addition to his aptitude for sports, he also has an artistic side and has been taking photographs throughout his life, winning several photographic contests along the way. And besides all this, he is a keen experimenter with woodcarving.

"I've always tried to excel, to be the first, to create something new," says Pekár, a native of the western Slovak town of Unín who heads an association of amateur woodcarvers called SPOROFA, or the Association of Expanded Fantasy (Spoločnosť rozvinutej fantázie).

Until the end of April, the works of 18 artists from the association will be on display in a show entitled Shapes of Wood in the Villa Rustica Gallery at Dom kultúry Dúbravka in Bratislava.

Some of the works feature mythological and religious motifs, such as the ones cut into a locust tree and red marble by Slavomír Kubinec, or folk customs, like those carved by Ferdinand Vépy, whose nativity scene is regularly displayed at Bratislava's Trinity Church during Christmas. Other works play more with the shape of the wood, like Peter Zoriňák's bent angel. Some of the works even exploit the wood's defects, like a piece entitled Tattler by Venantius Oscitý, which uses a black knot as the mouth.


OSCITÝ's Tattler (centre).
photo: Zuzana Habšudová

Pekár's works are easy to pick out, as they are different from the works of his colleagues. His dancer-like birds with detachable long legs and necks, his tuxedo-clad mice with long tails, and cars and microbuses carved out of a section of log; all of these were created in the simplest way possible using the wood's natural shape.

"I have to admit, I'm lazy," says Pekár with a laugh, while holding one of the mice in his hands. "Two thirds of [my work] is untouched wood. I try to do minimal intervention in the wood to achieve maximum effect."

The director of the Dúbravka House of Culture, Henrieta Dóšová, says that Pekár's imaginative way of joining thin sticks with thick bars is "unbelievable". She also admires his ability to carve parts of an object out of a branch, create the object, then take it apart and put the branch back together again.

"He, and most of the other exhibitors, can see things in the wood before they cut into it," she says.

The SPOROFA association brings together amateur woodcarvers from Bratislava and its surroundings. The group's 12 registered members include doctors, professors, managers, a journalist, and even a shop assistant, who all work with wood in their free time. The association was founded in the beginning of 2002 in order to be able to officially accept funds from Bratislava's Ružinov district to hold an exhibition in the local House of Culture.


PEKÁR's cars that move.
photo: Stano Pekár

The idea of bringing amateur woodcarvers together occurred to Pekár a couple of years after he stopped working for the Centre of Folk and Art Production (ÚĽUV). While he was running a woodcarvers' workshop there he met many people who devoted their free time to woodcarving.

"Because nobody could see their works outside the place, I decided to form a Seniors Club, as many of them were my age, around 60. We would meet to show each other the works we created, and from time to time we would organise an exhibition. But one day our record keeper brought a young woodcarver who wanted to exhibit with us, and the original idea of it being a club for old gentlemen was gone," he says, explaining an unexpected turn in their plan.

Pekár first entered ÚĽUV when he was 23. Carrying interestingly shaped self-grown pieces of wood, he managed to persuade the management to let him create candlesticks out of them - despite the fact that that was not in line with ÚĽUV's mission to preserve and revive traditional crafts.


MONKS created by Pekár for a show in Pompeii reminded some people of Slovak politicians.
photo: Stano Pekár

"In ÚĽUV they called me a rebel," says Pekár, who cannot limit himself to doing what those before him did.

He started with triangular horses made out of what Pekár calls "black oak", which is a regular oak that has been left soaking in water for a long time. Over time, he switched to using as much of a piece of wood as possible.

"One day, I would like to have a tree cut down for me, and until I have worked all the wood, I will not move from it."

What: Images of Wood - wood sculpture exhibition.
When: Wed, Fri, Sat 17:00-19:00, Sun 10:00-13:00, until April 30.
Where: Villa Rustica Gallery at Dom kultúry Dúbravka (Dúbravka House of Culture), Saratovská 2/A, Bratislava.
Admission: free.
Tel: 02/6436-5477 (537).

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