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Through the form of his latest exhibition Mineral, Adam Šakový repeatedly redefines his artistic program, driven by his fascination with painting and systematic thinking about strategies for displaying and evaluating visual information. The development of the author’s work in recent years is captured in his clearly defined painting series (eg Spasené/Salvation, 2012, Bez predlohy/No Template, 2013, Still Alive, 2015, Edukácie/Education, 2015 -–2017, Can’t See the Forest for the Trees, 2019), which both define and deny the characteristics of Šakový’s style. The ambivalence of this statement is based on the author’s systematic appropriation of elements and formal procedures of historic painting, as well as his partial physical distancing from the canvas thanks to frequent use of airbrush, which encourages realistic and hyperrealistic depiction. Although Šakový would be able to partially suppress the visible traces of brush movements by photography (a very familiar medium for the author) or digital print, he uses a certain imitation of reality with oil and acrylic painting as well as the sterile painting precision as a platform for developing his concepts.

At first glance, Adam Šakový’s solo exhibition sparks interest thanks to the rigid use of monochromatic color palette featuring a rich spectrum of grey shades. The selection of works from the author’s latest painting series Kamene/Stones (2019/2020) combines clear visual information with an unclear/ambiguous meaning. The multifigural compositions depict ecstatic bodies, details of athletic figures or soft curves, and tense compositions on the borderline of placid and post-mortal state. The loss of interest in a realistic color palette combined with figural scenes is determined by the focus on the material quality of the original visual sources, while encouraging a visual play with light and shadows.

The identity of the heroes and heroines in Šakový’s monumental paintings is not important. However, the attentive eye will not miss the appropriation of well-known scenes from the top works of late European Renaissance and Baroque sculpture, which the author used to create his recent visual traps. Although the appropriated historical prototypes communicated mythological stories or various sacral themes in their original context, Šakový is much more interested in using painting transcripts of the relationship between (inanimate) stone and the subsequent emergence of (living) sculpture, and between (inanimate) sculpture and imitation of a (living) figure, as well as the dispute whether the depicted character is alive or we’re looking at a post-mortem scene.

Additionally, the author supports the thin and difficult-to-grasp line between what is alive and what merely imitates life by painting motifs of stones and stone forms that change the nature of the depicted scenes with their illusory spatial qualities and the shadows they cast. Thanks to them, the sculptural figures in dynamic-static situations soften and blur. The focus naturally shifts to the central fragments of stones and the abstract structures of the marble slabs, which also act as imaginary prototypes of the statues. The elusive logic of ambiguous space, time and material quality of the scenes is accelerated by shadows, which actively dynamize the peaceful situations, change physical laws by their absurd use and develop their own relational symbolism (stone casting two shadows or two stones merging into one) or the related idiomatic expressions in Slovak. At the same time, the motifs of minerals visually expand beyond the canvas and erase the imaginary line between paintings and objects.

GALLERY JAN KONIAREK TRNAVA, 26.01.2021 18:00 – 02.05.2021, Nové krídlo Koppelovej vily, Curated by: Michal Stolárik

SODA gallery, 2019

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