ALTHOUGH the Slovak National Gallery (SNG) primarily focuses on the country’s art history and its periods and trends, it occasionally offers solo exhibitions of progressive artists as well as other innovative projects. The current exhibition of works by Denisa Lehocká fits into the latter category.
“The solo exhibition by Denisa Lehocká is a certain precedent in the SNG’s exhibition plan, as solo shows by artists of the young and middle-aged generations are rather exceptional here,” wrote Alexandra Kusá and Monika Mitášová, the show’s curators, in an accompanying brochure. “Although the SNG concentrates more on collections and presenting tried-and-true artistic works, our gallery decided in 2010 to include solo exhibitions by a contemporary artist once every two years.”
Lehocká is a middle-aged artist whose works are in both public and private collections in Slovakia and abroad. This exhibition is not a retrospective of her works but a site-specific installation on the entire first floor of the Esterházy Palace that consists of drawings, paintings, objects, tools and installation components as well as several items from the SNG’s collection and products from nature. Even an object like one of the building’s fire extinguishers, which could not be removed for safety reasons, became part of the artistic installation. Like most of Lehocká’s works, this exhibition focuses on visual transformation of the surrounding world and is autobiographical in its fundaments but is directed as well towards a more general artistic statement, according to the brochure.
“I mostly want to change some things in the installation until the very last moment,” Lehocká told The Slovak Spectator, “but once it is finished I don’t feel the urge to stand next to it and then explain it. Artwork is a very individual thing and the greatest satisfaction for me is when people approach me and tell me later what they looked for, read and connected with in my work. I don’t insist on a strict, precise interpretation. Surely it makes a difference whether my work is viewed by a seven-year-old child or by a divorced man of 50 who has different experiences and different relations. That’s why the door [for interpretation] is always open.”
Lehocká, born in 1971, studied art in secondary school and also at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava. She has exhibited at many places in Slovakia and abroad.
An accompanying catalogue describing Lehocká’s artistic achievements was written by the curators as well as by Ruth Noack, an art theoretician who reviews Lehocká’s work in the international context and gave a lecture about the artist at the SNG on April 3.
Lehocká told The Slovak Spectator how she views her installation in the SNG. “My work here is the result of a certain period, efforts and work; I have a certain background and education, and when I come to my studio and later to the gallery it is like improvisation, like when you play music, for example jazz. In the specific moment you have certain material, a certain scale, but the concentration, the fleeting emotion, takes place in the gallery and stays there for just the moment.”
The exhibition titled Denisa Lehocká 2012 is at the SNG’s Esterházy Palace site (Ľ. Štúr Square) and is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 to 18:00, except for Thursday (12:00 to 20:00) until June 3.
Admission is €0.80 to €3.50. A guided tour of the exhibition, in Slovak only, will be offered on April 22 at 15:00.