Krokus Gallery presents the exhibition of the Slovak painter František Demeter entitled NO YES NO.
Demeter is of the most interesting representatives of the Slovak contemporary painting, despite the fact that he is not well-known among the public. The artist's first solo exhibition at Krokus is the selection of his latest works, in which he intensively deals with the semantic and material possibilities of the traditional media of the painting.
One of the main topics in Demeter's oeuvre, which also resounds in this exhibition, is the question of what is the essence of painting. In the course of the twentieth century, this once “royal art discipline” has had to cope with radical changes and painting today is just one of a wide range of disciplines. In his NO YES NO exhibition, František Demeter declares his adherence to the tradition of painting and he also re-evaluates its well-established approaches, looking for other scenarios. The artists decomposes the basic elements of painting and depiction, puts in doubt their function and significance, and places them in the process of creation into provocative relations. He pays much attention to the frame of the picture itself, which usually fulfils the function of the carrier of the painting. The choice of the format of the picture is usually the artist's first step. In his newest work, Demeter does not content himself with standardised formats such as a rectangle or a square, but he uses irregular shapes. He turns the wooden slats from the back of the usual painting canvas into the main elements of the composition which determine the final appearance of both sides of the picture. In several works, the back becomes the front of the painting; the painted rear side of the frame claims the viewer's attention. With his principle of inversion, Demeter appears to be pointing out that the details, which are at the first glance invisible, are often more interesting than the immediately accessible reality of the painting.
Another of Demeter's fields of experimentation is the colour. His characteristic dark and almost monochromatic palette has surprisingly expanded and now includes also pure shades such as magenta, yellow and turquoise. The need to add colour to the picture is not autotelic but stems from the artist's personal experiences. The sense of a life change is symbolised by a colour spectrum which rises out of the dark background as, for example, in the painting Model (2014). In his further works, Demeter involves both sides of the picture; he solves the problem formulated in the question “How to put colour in a picture?” with his multicoloured treatment of the rear side. It is as if he smuggles bright colours into his painting through the back door.
Even though Demeter considers himself as a painter in essence, from time to time he searches for ways of confronting the canvas with space in the form of installation. He is not afraid of placing a painter's canvas in a heavy metal vice (Gallery SVU with Klaudia Kosziba, 2009) or leaning a large trapezoid painting against the gallery wall (Krokus, with Christian Bazant-Hegemark, 2011). Part of the NO YES NO exhibition is an installation of pictures in space and the creation of the environment where the viewer is confronted with the two-sided character of Demeter's works. By moving the paintings suspended on rails, the visitor can reshape the whole composition and thus observe the dialogue between artworks. He has the opportunity to observe the picture as an object and perceive it from several perspectives or see how all the parts intersect. This principle of composition is close to a collage, which strategies have also found their place in the contemporary painting and installations.
Demeter commented the relationship between content and form in his latest works with the words: “The form does with me whatever it likes.” This fact stems from the medium of the painting itself, which is created in time. Demeter is not an artist who transfers onto the canvas a composition defined in advance, but he lets himself to be guided by transformations during the creative process. This sometimes leads to several re-paintings of the picture. The formal principle is enhanced by his radical work with the frame which Demeter compiles from smaller fragments and which shape changes in his hands. One can also feel his enthusiasm for the work with this material, the combination of techniques and methods. The resulting artwork is the culmination of the original intention and spontaneous improvisation. Demeter's approach can be seen as very process-based, where art is more a journey than a goal.
Text by Gabriela Kisová
František Demeter (*1975, SK), graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava (prof. Ján Berger), works at the Department of Painting and Other Media of the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava. Selected exhibitions:Regional Gallery Zlín (2014), House of Art Bratislava (2011), Krokus Gallery (2011), Gallery of Cyprián Majerník Bratislava (2009). His works are in the collection of the Foundation of Contemporary Painting and in several private collections.
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