Using a thematic framework, this exhibition will present the works of Slovak Modernism to the Austrian public. The traditional motive of a Madonna – a mother with a child – was quite common in the works of Slovak painters in the inter-war and later periods. In Slovakia, the Virgin Mary has been revered since time immemorial as the patron and protector of the country, which is why contextual connotations and overlaps from the ‘motherly’ to the ‘Marian’ motives were quite common, and for Slovak artists also natural. No wonder – in an environment of predominantly rural society, the traditional forms of life survived long into the 20th century, with strongly rooted religious views. Portrayal of a mother with a child was frequently semanticesed, shifting from the level of genre to the level of symbolism: a mother with a child becomes a Madonna, often gaining the attribute of being ‘Slovak’, so that she metaphorically watched not only over the fates of the individuals, but also of the entire nation. Thus, in the work of Slovak modernist artists, we find a typical contextual oscillation between the religious –sacral, and the secular – profane understanding of the motive, which is supported e.g. by the use of the iconographic motive of an aureole – a halo. The exhibition presents the famous and less well known works of the classics of the Slovak modern art: Martin Benka, Gustáv Mallý, Miloš Alexander Bazovský, Janko Alexy, Ľudovít Fulla, Mikuláš Galanda, Imro Weiner-Kráľ, Ester Šimerová-Martinčeková, Ján Mudroch, but also the less known works of Teodor Tekel, František Reichentál, Arnold Weisz-Kubínčan, Bertalán Pór, and others. The exhibition was premiered in the Studio of the 20th Century in the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava (2010), as well as in the Slovak Institute in Rome and in the San Sebastiano Oratorio in the Italian town of Forli (2011). Its Vienna version will offer a wider selection of works.
- Miloš Alexander Bazovský1936