Stano Pekár

The exhibition will last from January 7th until February 1st, 2004
Opening hours: daily from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. except Mondays

Stano Pekár is oddly a "dioecious" author being an artist and photographer. This combination in itself would be nothing extraordinary - since the sixties more and more artists have appeared also in Slovakia pursuing these two visual arts. However, Pekár's is a different case - ever since the mid-60s he he been he has been co-operating with the Centre for Artistic Folk Work for whom he designs wooden artifacts - initially candle-holders, candelabra, sconces, later, until now, primarily animal figures but also wooden sculptures in the style of organic abstraction.

A different shape of organic abstraction - a photographic parallel of biomorphous structures , known from microscopic photographs - appears in Pekár's photographic works at the end of the 60s and the first half of the 70s. Concurrently with artistically oriented photography, Pekár also followed live photography but he achieved more striking results only in the mid-70s when he took contact with the line of sociological document, developed in Czech photography since the early 70s. Pekár's cycles Ubytovňa (Hostel) - also comprising the self-standing set Fotografie na želanie (Photographs on Request) Záhorácke slávnosti (Tramontane Festivities), Boxeri (Boxers) and the independent picture Piknik (Picnic from 1975), meant a breakthrough in Slovak photography, Pekár's Sociological Document differed from his preceding works - although as a photographer he was interested in the survey of a certain milieu and a certain society, "he is not out solely for episodic reportages, nor for objectivism of sociology; he rather strives to combine the two into one." (Václav Macek).

Right from the beginning (barring a few exceptions, as e.g. Photographs on Request), Pekár is concerned with so-called total photography, i.e. maximum photographic surface should be made use of for visual information, so that a single take would comprise several potential pictures. But at the same time, despite a condensation of the epsiode and diverse situations, every thing must be legible and lucid. In this complementarity of episodic situations concentrated in a single take, the principle if the decisive moment as known from humanistic photography naturally ceases to be valid. Each different take is thus made up of the sum of “non – decisive moments” in which the condensed visual information is of greater importance than an eventual photographic point.

The cycle “Photographs on Request” is exceptional in Pekár’s work in that the author carries the principle of documentary objectivism to its consequences – girls from the hostel “stage” themselves, they themselves decide on the arrangment of the photographs, they are their own visagists. This thus, gives raise to a new type of visual information. However, Pekár did not carry on along this line, even thought the portrait of a person taken in an evnironment congenial to him was still of interest to him, as seen in some pictures from the cycle “Klub dôchodcov” (Pensioners Club – 1970-1978), but primarily his cycles “Trhovníci” (Market-goers – 1982) and “Strelnice” (Shooting-galleries – 1983). Here, however, the author himself ”stages” his personages in the midst of piled-up requisites. This gives rise to pictures full of inconspicuous humor with the pertinent visual point, hence, something Pekár had shunned in his early works. In general, a great quantity of accumulated items – people and objects – very often appear in Pekár‘s photographs. Despite his interest in contemporary topics, the later paradoxically comprise something of the old masters. By using group portraits and accumulated – visually juicy props, these photographs are reminiscent in something of works of the late Venetian and Dutch genre painting from the periond of mannerism and baroque. Here also belongs the motive of crypto-portrait (concealed self-portrait). Similarly as in pictures by old masters, the author likes to integrate himself into group portraits or generally into the pictures teaming with people - e.g. in his „Picnic“ (1974-1975), his „Meeting of the Forty-Years Olds at Unin“ (1978), in the composition „Tanečnice” (Dancers – 1976) and numerous others.

Although Stano Pekár occasionally followed up topics that might have sounded as being socio-critical and that in various measures revealed an individual’s lonesomeness in a group or throng, they demonstrated the devastation of the environment an ideological vision of life, hence, topics characteristic of the art of the 70s and 80s, nonetheless, dominating in his pictures in some sort of a baroque dynamism and vitalism. They testify to the joy of life that may alse be found in a decadent period.

Aurel Hrabušický