Contemporary European Painting from Collection of Robert Runták
One collection – plenty of painting scenes and figures
The presented painting exhibition brings some peculiarities. On the one hand, it shows a quality composition of the European figural painting presenting a strong line of contemporary art of the 21st century (therefore the pressing title FIGURATIVE IMPERATIVE). On the other hand, it brings a selection from the wide-ranging private collection of the Czech lawyer and executor Robert Runták. The valuable collection composed internationally like this is not a custom in our region – neither in the gallery nor museum environment.
The exhibition presents many figural forms of the current painting in the European context. It is the main platform associating the presented paintings in the Trnava gallery. At the same time, an overwhelming majority of them derive their theme from photographs. They use the photographic medium and photo snapshots as input data, the first gateway to a reflection about today´s world. However, it is important that artists show this photographic theme on canvas again and subject it to the full-valued painting interpretation and version. Thus, it is confirmed once again that contemporary painting is able to absorb various media influences and also digital images, and at the same time to bring a peculiar story, painting finesse and individual expressive presentation of the theme.
Iconographically, in this group of paintings it is possible to determine some basic levels. At the beginning, there is mirrored the urban environment itself. The urban context is presented through geometric structures or fragments of architecture – illustration of cleared buildings, walls, or shadows by George Shaw, or Jonathan Wateridge; regular grid or modelled 3D stage by David Schnell, or an elementary raster of balcony rhythms by Eberhard Havekost. These are followed by the scenes of every-day life, painting in the form of a “window“ with a view on the interior – illustrating figures in the kitchen, in a hotel or at a birthday party (Caroline Walker), presenting family gatherings in the living room or lounging about in a sofa (Marius Bercea). Another level is bringing shots into ordinary streets, shabby walls on the way to work (Serban Savu), or a little romantic and even theatrical carnival scenes by Oana Farkasova. These are added by deeper dives, introvert moments of intimacy, solitude or depression. Impersonalized, almost black and white interpretation of figures by Wilhelm Sasnal, portrait psychological depicting by Victor Man or body fragments by Alexander Tinei with blue “veins “ on the complexion, which present traits of physical pains, becoming indifferent, and lost identity.
It is also possible to add the whole series of non-homogenous, pieced together, or hybrid form of the post-communist reality (above all the painters on the line of Prague – Krakow – Cluj). We find here a melancholic de-constructive environment and semi-demolished architecture by Daniel Pitín, bitter remarks of Marcin Maciejowsky to today´s politics, Catholic church and art marketing or records of the socialist brutal architecture and their ”concrete gardens“ by Marius Bercea. Similarly, also dangerous or crisis situations are formulated critically – street performances of figures with masks and dramatic burnt colourfulness by Daniel Richter, Dokoupil´s disappearing Christ on the Cross in the plenty of soot and smoke, endangering scenes of the contaminated environment by Justin Mortimer, or symptomatic death dance in a form of laughing skulls by Chapman brothers.
Mr. Runták´s collection presents a concentrated following of some European culture centres and schools (London, Berlin, Leipzig, Prague, Krakow, Budapest, Cluj-Napoca etc.). Valuable is above all emphasizing the artists from great centres out of the European capitals. In the 1990s, they were especially two German schools of painting: Dresden (Eberhard Havekost, Thomas Scheibitz, and Frank Nitsche) and Leipzig (so-called Neue Leipziger Schulle – Neo Rauch, Tilo Baumgärtel, Tim Eitel, and David Schnell) and one Polish group “Ladnie“ from Krakow (Wilhelm Sasnal, Marcin Maciejowski, Rafal Bujnowski, and elderly Marek Firek). After 2000, we observe an intensive start of the Romanian school of painting, mainly from Cluj. Its protagonists have already recorded many a success on the international scene and presentations in renowned private galleries all over the world, e. g. Victor Man (Gladstone Gallery New York), Marius Bercea (BlainSoutern Gallery London and Berlin; Ghebaly Gallery Los Angeles), Serban Savu (David Nolan Gallery New York, Nikodim Gallery Los Angeles); Oana Farkasova (Dominique Fiat Paris; Anna Cristea Gallery New York). To this list, it is possible to add also a successful Alexander Tinei of Moldovan origin who has settled in Budapest (Ando Gallery Tokyo; Deák Erika Gallery Budapest).
Ranking the artists from the Robert Runták´s collection in the international scene is proven also by the fact that the first part of the series “New Perspectives of Painting” in London Phaidon (editor Barry Schwabsky, 2002) includes along with great European painters such as Franz Ackermann, Katharine Grosse, Peter Doig, Sarah Morris, Neo Rauch or Luc Tuymans, also the painters: Daniel Richter, Wilhelm Sasnal or George Shaw. However, in the second edition of the publication (New Perspectives of Painting II, Phaidon London 2011) there appears already the whole array of the names known from the Runták´s collection: Tilo Baumgärtel, Rafal Bujnowski, Marcin Maciejowski, Justin Mortimer, Serban Savu and also Alexander Tinei. This is one of striking and positive examples of the acceptance of the artists from Central Europe in the international field of art. Let us add, nowadays, Mr. Robert Runták is a member of the advisory committee for Eastern and Central Europe at the TATE Gallery in London. At the end of the last year, he opened in Olomouc a new multi-functional space for the contemporary culture and communications Telegraph (2019), where the main role shall be played by: gallery, hub, lounge (a possibility of residences), café etc. I hope it will play the same stimulating role as similar centres of culture in Cluj (Fabrica de Pensula, since 2009), or the known area of art Spinnerei in Leipzig (since 2012).
This international group of works has already been presented in different curator conceptions in the castle brewery in Litomyšl (“This is not a poetry! (Collapse of feelings)“, 2016), or in the Gallery of Fine Arts in Ostrava (“Disrupted Imagination“, 2017) and reinstallation in Ferenczy Museum in Szentendre (2017). In case of our exhibition FIGURATIVE IMPERATIVE, it is the first show in Slovakia in general.