Opening: 5. 5. 2022 at 18:00
Exhibition duration: 6. 5. 2022 - 18. 9. 2022
Curator: Miroslav Kleban
Space Q, Hlavná 27, Košice
“I don’t feel like a true abstract geometrist, I feel more like a classical painter. I don’t claim to see the world geometrically or abstractly, I just fell in love with the form. There is no logical explanation for it. Maybe it’s because I feel a sense of pleasant fulfilment when I paint this way.”
The first solo exhibition of the contemporary visual artist Ján Vasilko (b. 1979) at the East Slovak Gallery is a retrospective reflection on the most significant series of paintings which Vasilko has created over approximately 15 years. The name of Ján Vasilko is not unknown to the general public. He entered the scene after the year 2000. He quickly became an established painter and a prominent personality of the so-called 00s art generation of Košice, which emerged from the Faculty of Arts of the Technical University in Košice. The currently presented works are a selection of the most important and most representative works that Vasilko has created in his artistic career so far.
The theoretical definitions and commentaries on Vasilko’s work are now notoriously familiar, but they are still valid and define his artistic programme. The characteristic machine aesthetics, romantic and utopian enthusiasms for machinery, production halls, parts, industrialisation and technocratisation of society are the main motifs of Vasilko’s canvases. The distinctive visuality found its genesis in Pop Art aesthetics and the Russian interwar avant-garde movements of Suprematism and Constructivism. Vasilko’s paintings reduce elemental forms and serve as a parody of the ubiquitous pursuit of the best advertising design. The most recognisable attributes of Vasilko’s paintings are lines, points, sections, multiplication of forms, horizontals and verticals, as the alpha and omega of all his thought processes and creativity. It might seem that Vasilko’s compositions evoke the structures of a visual alphabet, which might encourage us to misinterpret his paintings. As the artist himself claims, his compositions are not coded texts nor Orphistic compositions, although Vasilko gravitates toward the work of František Kupka and Vasily Kandinsky: “I respect these artists very much, and they mean a lot to me. But when I try to connect our inner foundational contents, I feel that they are not the same. I don't identify with Kupka's paintings' musicality or melodiousness and Kandinsky’s direct derivation from nature, that is, his gradual abstraction of nature.” Vasilkov’s painting is neither romantic nor utopian, nor is it a manifesto of current popular themes (ecology, politics, concept, activism). His painting is a ritual, a performative record of a psychological state of mind and a search for the essence within the austere, rational and cold geometry in symbiosis with expressionistic manifestation. “For me, rigorous, rational, calculable or even mathematical geometry is boring. The element of chance or a previously unclear result is much more exciting.” This is one of the approaches characteristic of the last period of Vasilko’s work. Even a post-geometric aesthetic combined with form and colour can evoke associative processes through “expressive” geometry. Vasilko works with the viewer as a Dadaist or Surrealist, working with the moment of chance to the final precise “point of shape”, symmetry and rationality expressed through sharp edges while retaining a form of visual poetry.
Although Vasilko has been based in Bratislava since 2021, the bulk of his creative period is closely linked to the region of Košice, where he studied and worked for over 20 years. His relationship to the metropolis of the East is represented by his now-iconic series of large-format paintings named Proposals for a Contemporary Art Museum in Košice for 2013. This series is a unique manifestation of an engaged approach. It is a critical pointer to the relationship of public power to local culture, rendered in the spirit of an analytical layout of the subjects. Ján Vasilko is an active, almost obsessive type of artist who considers his work an elementary physiological necessity. He has presented his work at dozens of collective and solo exhibitions, and in 2005 he was awarded the Oskár Čepan Prize. His works are housed in Slovak galleries and many private collections in Slovakia and abroad.