Through Art and Word, the Cultural Heritage of the Premonstratensian Order in Jasov

duration: 17. 12. 2020 – 25. 8. 2021
curator: Katarína Nádaská
Východoslovenská galéria, Hlavná 27

The exhibition Through Art and Word was created in close co-operation with the East Slovak Gallery and the Premonstratensian Abbey in Jasov. The 900th anniversary of the founding of the order of the Premonstratensians provided an appropriate opportunity to organise an exhibition showing the cultural and historical heritage of Jasov Abbey with links to the history of the gallery's art collection.

From the Middle Ages through the Baroque period to the dissolution of the monastery in 1950, the Premonstratensians in Jasov left a rich legacy of art, book culture and architecture. The interpretative level of the exhibition is within the preserved art-historical collection with references to the history of the Premonstratensians from the Middle Ages to the present day. The order’s collection is presented in a wider context with overlaps in the main areas of the Premonstratensian cultural heritage – fine art, library, archival documents, paraments and architecture. The structure of the exhibition does not take the form of a chronological interpretation. It consists of sections themed around culture, education and the Cult of God, imperatives typical of the Premonstratensian Order.

After more than half a century, the exhibited objects documenting the Premonstratensian genius loci find themselves in the original context of their Premonstratensian provenance. They represent the high cultural and artistic status of the abbey, as well as the historical memory of the monastery complex.

The exhibition does not strive to be a reconstruction of the collection; this has been made impossible by the violent intervention of totalitarian power in 1950, when the collection was last complete in its original location. The exhibition is rather an exploration of its current state and a mapping of the potential of its artistic and historical significance.

The main aim of this exhibition is to introduce the rare and long-term inaccessible cultural heritage to the general and professional public. It is the result of the successful co-operation of a state and a church institution, engaged in the dialogue on the protection and recognition of common cultural and historical values, despite the difficulties of the past. Part of the abbey's artworks were, after confiscation in 1957, assigned to the East Slovak Gallery’s collection, from which they were returned to the order in 2008. The exhibition does not bypass this fact and, on the contrary, acknowledges this moment in the development of the gallery’s collection. The reconciliation is evident through the effective co-operation with the order and engagement of these works in the gallery’s exhibitions.

Within the central themes of fine art is a museum aspect which plays a crucial role in designing an exhibition. This characteristic also enabled the engagement of various artefacts such as archive documents, maps and books. Thanks to these overlaps, the visitors encounter a wider context of understanding the cultural operation of the monastery.

The exhibition project Through Art and Word brings together several memory institutions and types of collections (archives, libraries, museums) to create a comprehensive view of the central theme and provide a coherent insight into the various segments of the rich cultural heritage of the Premonstratensian Order in Jasov.

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