Jozef Jankovič | Flow of Time

12 Oct 2017 - 11 Mar 2018

In the 1960s, Jozef Jankovič became one of the prominent figures of post-war Slovak art. He participated in non-public exhibitions entitled Confrontations, held in studios in Bratislava where the work of the generation of artists who openly declared their adherence to abstract tendencies was presented. He soon achieved international recognition and respect. In his sculptures he approached the morphology of informel, new figuration, pop-art and modernist influences with his own style. Through them he described the rise and fall of human life, and projected that onto the social level with an ironic hyperbole that reached existential limits as a result of the recent past.

He particularly impressed himself in the minds of the public with his sculptural group entitled Victims Warning, created between 1967 and 1969 for the Memorial to the Slovak National Uprising in Banská Bystrica. The work became a symbol of Slovak society coping with its past. The relocation of the work to Kaliště, a village burned down by the Nazis, is one of the many sad stories of the normalization period. Despite the originally assigned theme of the sculptural group (the theme of victory), Jankovič wilfully decided to change it to the characteristic theme of victim. The bold shape of the vertical and horizontal intersection of human figures in one compact whole is one of the greatest monumental works of sculpture and architecture that, in its dimensions, surpassed other works of its kind from that time.

Despite the impossibility of presenting his own sculptures and other artistic works, he ceaselessly sought new ways to create art. Beside jewellery, he started to make graphic art, thanks to which he became one of the pioneers of computer graphics in Slovak fine art. Even after another blow that seriously damaged his health, he did not give up his unconventional form of artistic expression, and that resulted in sizeable figural reliefs and plastic art works, which were often placed on public premises.

Jozef Jankovič received many significant awards: the Grand Prix of the Danuvius Biennale in Bratislava (1968), the Biennale de Paris (1969) and the Herder Prize in Vienna (1983). He represented Slovakia at many exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale (1970, 1995) and the exhibition of Eastern European avant-garde entitled Europa-Europa in Bonn (1994). From 1990 he taught at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava and became its first rector after the political changes of 1989. His sculpture Following in Our Fathers Footsteps (1987) became part of the E.P.A.D. collection of contemporary art in La Défense in Paris. At the turn of 2016 Jankovič and Jana Želibská represented Slovakia at the exhibition entitled The World Goes Pop in the Tate Modern in London. He actively participated in many art symposiums and had numerous stays abroad. His works can be found in many public and private collections worldwide.

The exhibition of Jankovičs works in the Olomouc Museum of Art is a follow-up to an exhibition with the same title held at the Bratislava City Gallery (7 September – 23 October    2016). It is accompanied by the monograph which is a cross-section of his life-long sculptural work. The exhibition is being held on the anniversary of his eightieth birthday, at which time the art community was struck with the news of his sudden passing.  Tribute is thus being paid to this leading personality of Slovak sculpture from the 2nd half of the 20th century. The focus of the selection of his works, prepared with the participation of the artist, is on the turn of the 1970s, i.e. the period during which his personal art programmes were formed as he responded to tendencies in European art. Jankovič devised the motif of oversized human limbs morphing into expressive plastic works which bore the message of an urgent appeal in light of the social events of the time. The collection of his early works on paper and the digitalized views of his architectural projects and computer graphics presented on a touchscreen aptly illustrate Jankovičs extraordinary sense of shape and matter, and their internal dynamics, as well as his ability to empathize with contemporary means of expression which, when put together, create several parallel lines in his rich work. You will have the opportunity to see the central examples of the artists creative thinking in in the years following the 1970s when, as part of post-modern morphology, grotesque came to the fore, communicating in a peculiar way the feelings which result from the quest for freedom and the absurdity of experiences. With its characteristic acridity, it pertinently pointed to various positions and extreme deformations of an individual living with the reality of the time.

The exhibition is held under the auspices of Mr. Daniel Herman, Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic, and Mr. Marek Maďarič, Minister of Culture of the Slovak Republic.

Selection of exhibits and exhibition conception: Jozef Jankovič, Olga Staníková
Exhibition curator: Olga Staníková
Architectural design: Tomáš Lampar
Graphic design: Vladimír Vaca
Installation: Jan Kutra, Vlastimil Sedláček, Filip Šindelář
Conservation treatment of objects: Dalibor Sedlák, Eliška Sklenářová, Veronika Wanková, Libuše Vybíralová
Lighting design: Pavla Beranová, Zuzana Režná, Michal Horáček, Luboš Zbranek – Lighting Design, Theatre Faculty JAMU in Brno
Intervention in the  exhibition: Ivana Zochová
Multimedia: Petr Votoček, Kamil Zajíček
Translation and proofreading: Adéla Horáková, David Richardson
Photographs: archive of the author, Zdeněk Sodoma, fotoarchiv Slovenské národní galerie, Oravské galerie v Dolním Kubíně a Stredoslovenské galerie v Banské Bystrici, archive of the Slovak National Gallery, the Orava Gallery in Dolný Kubín and the Central Slovakia Gallery in Banská Bystrica
Public relations: Tomáš Kasal, Lukáš Horák
Accompanying programmes and events: Petr Dvořák, Alexandr Jeništa 
Educational programmes: David Hrbek, Michaela Soukupová

Acknowledgements for kindly lending the artist‘s works and their digital reproductions to the exhibition: Mrs. Zuzana Jankovičová with family, Art Fund – Central European Contemporary Art Fund, Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum, Bratislava City Gallery, National Gallery in Prague, Slovak National Gallery, First Slovak Investment Group a.s. in Bratislava, Roman Fecik Gallery, East Bohemian Gallery in Pardubice, Linea Collection, SOGA Collection, Collection of the Dolmen Gallery, Orava Gallery in Dolný Kubín, Central Slovak Gallery in Banská Bystrica, Czech and Slovak private collections.

The exhibition project has been prepared by  the Olomouc Museum of Art in co-operation with the Bratislava City Gallery and Art Bid Publishers, Inc., Bratislava and with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic.

The artists monograph with texts by Juraj Mojžiš and Ivan Jančár will be published on the occasion of the exhibition, in cooperation with Art Bid Publishers, Inc., Bratislava.