Alex Mlynárčik through the eyes of Pierre Restany
Gallery V. - corridor
The XXL views of contemporary slovak art series
Alex Mlynárčik (born 1934) is one of the few Slovak artists who succeeded in also making an impact on the development of art in the West. His meeting with the legendary French art theorist Pierre Restany, who wrote a monograph on his work, was a turning point in Mlynárčik’s life – both in personal and artistic terms. It was Restany who defined the theory of Nouveau réalisme (and founded the group of the same name that existed from 1960 to 1964), according to which ordinary objects and realities entered into the artwork. Mlynárčik became a protagonist of the ‘Slovak trend’ of Nouveau réalisme that adopted two fundamental ideas – the appropriation of reality and the reaction of the public.
It is well-known that Alex Mlynárčik earned international artistic renown. As early as the 1960s he had the opportunity to take part in the most prestigious surveys of contemporary art, especially in Paris. Between 1967 and 1972 he staged a series of major projects, not only in Slovakia but also in Paris. Many leading European art theorists focused on his work – apart from Pierre Restany, they included Umbro Appolonio, Jindřich Chalupecký, Michel Ragon, Raoul–Jean Moulin and Henry Périer.
Mlynárčik’s site-specific project for GASK follows on from his critical reflections on the manifestations of totalitarian society. Here, he enters into a wholly specific dialogue with murals dating from the early 1950s that were painted when the Jesuit College was still an army barracks. Their ‘Stalinist-Hussite’ heroification, clumsily painted by an amateur soldier-artist, thus becomes a starting point for Mlynářčik to reveal the mechanisms of society at a characteristic intersection of art and non-artistic reality.
Richard Drury, curator