Exhibition from Svätopluk Mikyta

The Monochromes
Reimagining the past, interpreting the present

Opening: Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 7:30 - 8 pm
Duration of the exhibition: February to May 2019

Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen
(Staircase, ground floor to 2nd floor)

Spittelauer Lände 3
1090 Wien

Visits: during the general opening hours (8:30-14:30), on request or during events. Admission free.

In cooperation with the Institute for Human Sciences, Knoll Galerie Wien is showing a selection of works by the Slovakian artist Svätopluk Mikyta from his series "The Monochromes“ in the IWM premises. Svätopluk Mikyta was born in Slovakia in 1973. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava and at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart. He lives and works in Banska Stiavnica and Brno, where he is the head of the Graphics and Printing Department of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Technical University in Brno.
His works can be found in various collections, such as the collection of Grand-Duc Jean Museum of Modern Art, Luxembourg (LU), Chicago Institute of Art (USA), Museum of Applied Arts, Prague (CZ), Zabludowicz Collection, London (GB), Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava (SK), Central Slovak Gallery, Banská Bystrica (SK).

In his artistic practice Mikyta explores the Central European identity and criticizes, in a certain subversive way, different layers and forms of the complexity of this identity. Mikyta works with found photographic material and reworks discovered photographs from old books or catalogues with the aim of creating a new aesthetic and new meaning for these images. He investigates and interprets the visual impact of images created under various totalitarian regimes in Eastern and Central Europe in the 20th century. For several years he has been working on a series of "exaggerations", which he combines as cycles and develops in the medium of installation.

The exhibition in the Institute for Human Sciences presents large-format and monochrome screen prints. Without prior knowledge, the monochromes can be regarded as pure abstract paintings. In reality, however, these monochromes are unfinished posters from the 1970s and 1980s, remains of the print production at the time. The political propaganda from these years lies in the historical background of the Monochromes. At that time, the monochromes were pre-printed as political poster backgrounds and were no longer used after the fall of communism. Mikyta found them in a closed textile factory in a propaganda department and placed them in a new context of contemporary art and contemporary political turbulence.

Mikyta's work lies on the boundary between presence and absence of the symbol. The monochromes are not only empty minimalist color surfaces, but representations in which the tension between absence and presence, past and present, form and anti-form, vibrates. The questions arise - for what were the poster backgrounds prepared and what should had been printed on them? At the same time, the question of the meaning of colour cannot be avoided. What do colour poster backgrounds represent today and in what context can they be understood? Can these minimalist rectangular colour surfaces really only be understood as pure abstraction without meaning? On one side they are exactly that: pure monochrome forms, on the other they are colored surfaces full of political meaning and association. Red, blue, green are not only colours, but also political symbols that are already integrated in our thoughts.

Art historian and curator Mira Keratová uses the term anticonism to describe Mikytas monochromes. She explains that the concept of anticonism is one of the possible approaches to grasping Mikyta's work, which is usually discursively explained according to the rhetoric of Eastern European art at the turn of the century. In the monochromes, according to Keratová, Mikyta refers to the way the artist thinks visually in the process of confrontation between external and internal images. Through the strategy of appropriation he plays with old aesthetics and interprets earlier representations and their evolutionary continuity in the context of the infinite history of art and culture to create new contents and meanings.