Martin Krajc – Immersion
The Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum, Bratislava
November 20, 2021 – January 30, 2022
Martin Krajc’s second solo exhibition in Slovakia focuses on his most recent paintings from 2019 to 2021, except for the one hanging above the entrance ramp, which is from 2013. Its title Immersion (Vynořování) captures one of the enduring features of his work: the revelation, overlapping and penetration that takes place among the figural and zoomorphic themes and their relaxed depiction based on a combination of direct painter’s gesture and contemplative expression.
The exhibition presents Martin Krajc as a distinctive figuralist who finds inspiration in modernist architecture, film, fashion photography and literature. It has been designed in several interconnected sections, each of which summarizes one of the main themes of the artist’s current interest. They include views into the interiors of important structures, as introduced by the grey painting entitled Váza CSH (Vase CSH, 2013), for which the famous Miese van der Rohe villa and structures from many American case study houses served as models, this year’s themes of lonely grey sofas; flexible bodies of models depicted in extreme positions, bent over in angles that resemble the famous arch of hysteria or on the contrary, figures unintentionally fallen on the stairs where they have been captured by the omnipresent photographer, faces of young women, captivating the artist to such an extent that he did not hesitate to cover their beauty with a layer of paint; the fusion of young women and animals that revive ancient mythological stories as well as responses to various but still popular struggles enabling the merging of the human body with that of a swan, bull, rooster and monkey.
Krajc arrives at peculiar correlations that go beyond established and surviving types of their concepts. The exhibition also focuses on a separate depiction of powerful animals in a dynamic surge, captivating in their beauty and energy; the bull reveals Krajc’s deep interest in Spain and which is unique in contemporary Czech painting. Immersion has been designed to allow viewers to pass from two sides, as the introduction and conclusion convey a similar theme: the eye of a young women following the arriving and departing visitors; her body transforms into that of a swan – a symbol of the zoomorphic transformation of humans.
The swan also appears as a separate motif in one of the largest paintings that brings its majestic monumental shape reevaluated by multiple painter interventions in a rare visual feast on the border of pure painting. It is an exceptional work and this exhibition carries its title – Immersion; it expresses the universal synthesis of the permanent transformation of painting gesture, mutually penetrating motifs and their artistic reevaluation. Martin Krajc’s paintings speak to us by their thrilling energetic execution.
They are based on drawings that provide the spatial design of the basic compositions and determine the main features of the bodies and objects which are covered by layers of paint that thicken the stage which is defined with growing intensity up to their complete suppression where even occasional shadows become lost. His more recent work demonstrates wider positions of expression that are empowered by the pouring of paint which covers up and devours the original scene expressed by a linear silhouette. Krajc generalized the course of his work in this year with the title Pět forem (Five Forms) which briefly explains the basic layers of his approach: drawing, glaze, detail, gesture and pouring.
They refer to the gradually penetrating layers of the most recent works, one on top of the other, that preserve their openness towards the background from which individual layers gradually emerge during the painting action itself.