NATUREHUMANCITY is the third solo exhibition of the Slovakian artist and 2008 recipient of Oskar-Cepan-Award (YVAA) in the premises of Emmanuell Walderdorff Gallery.
For several years Svätopluk Mikyta has been working on a series of overdrawings which are comprised in cycles and worked up in an installative style. Hereby, he sets out from encountered photographic reproductions of a certain graphical print quality and reworks those with a drawing pen. Partly these interventions are made almost imperceptible, partly strictly formalistic; yet always with an infallable sense for the graphical potentialities of the source material and its historical essence, the collective psychology buried in it. We watch the artist picking up half forgotten pictures of pre-fascistic parade aesthetics and coming across definitely timeless Utopias in bygone formation ballets and human pyramids; but we also see how history is always constituted of a sum of individuals.
From the cycle Reportrait II, which completely focusses on the manipulation of individual physiognomies, the complexity of this approach can be quintessentially deduced. Subtly overdrawn head portraits are placed next to stern areas of black, the fully overdrawn alternates with the up to now left blank. We mainly see two adaptions of the same book fragment next to each other, as if we had to do with the nucleus of a film. The consistently small-sized sheets are placed in antique frames of different extents and are arranged into a vaguely symmetrical formation. A hyper-form painted at the wall subsumes the composition and contrasts in striking red the black and white of drawing and frame. Viewed from afar, this red form dominates the installation and spellbinds the first glance. In the lambent rhythm of geometry, the view soon turns to the alienated faces which - in graphical smartness - the artist's pen provides with a kind of aliveness almost_ seeming eerie in its remarkable presence.
This visualization of a historic image of humanity holds a central position in the overdawings. By this time, Mikyta - purposefully extending the spectrum of themes - more and more frequently applies his attention to presentations of landscape (NATURE) and architecture (CITY). Both subjects are animated with the same magical type of drawing and seamlessly integrated into the conception of aesthetic retrospection. In Mikyta's adaption nature and city thus do not appear conflictive any longer but instead seem to be imaginations equally deriving from the human mind (HUMAN).
In addition to the overdrawings, Mikyta acts on several other, partly very copious groups of works. Apart from a cycle of drawings - in which the artist appears diary-like in a seemingly never-ending variety of poetical situations - works come into existence which deal with the cultural abundance but also with the difficult national identity of his home country and juggle with myths, symbols and political links in a virtuoso manner. In this, drawing always remains central; but yet it is transposed into various other disciplines such as ceramics/porcelain, print graphics, assemblage or video performance.
In this exhibition, two objects are connected to a large-size space installation: the first one "Our crosses" consists of nine circles made from massive fireclay with metal plates arranged in nine different cross designs molten into the fireclay. The Christian symbols of different eras and denominations accumulate - humbly, but heavy - at the foot of a broadly ascending paper web with a monumental print, seemingly the reproduction of a propaganda motive from the socialist era. Once again, based on an illustration, a wood engraving that emblematizes the communist resistance of the partisans with pickaxe, linden leaves, and Kalashnikov, was meticulously traced and greatly enlarged on the computer. Miktya names the design "Bygone Motive" and thus alludes to the process of (electronic) tracing and brings it forward into a present, when the symbols of totalitarianism have lost their executive power but have remained potent as an aftervision and trauma.
Miktya takes on the insignia of the past in "Our crosses" as well as in "Bygone Motive" in a manner as he comes across them in our present and grants them a plastic shape. Which one of the contrastive forces prevails in this spectacle of signs - the ceremonially unsubstantial pathos of the partisan cult or the leaden materiality of the molten crosses - he leaves - with due foresight - open.