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Proverbs are a form of folk literature passed down through speech. Their authors are unknown. They served to express generalizing folk experience or wisdom. “The full stomach does not understand the empty one” is an overarching title for the shared presentation of the projects Breakfast included by Zuzana Svatík and Reuse pozdišovská by Štefan Sekáč. Both projects build upon the tradition of folk proverbs by means of re-contextualizing personal experience (and wisdom) and using modern language, thus creating their own form that moves on the boundary of applied art and free artistic creation.

Proverbs are a form of folk literature passed down through speech. Their authors are unknown. They served to express generalizing folk experience or wisdom. “The full stomach does not understand the empty one” is an overarching title for the shared presentation of the projects Breakfast included by Zuzana Svatík and Reuse pozdišovská by Štefan Sekáč. Both projects build upon the tradition of folk proverbs by means of re-contextualizing personal experience (and wisdom) and using modern language, thus creating their own form that moves on the boundary of applied art and free artistic creation.


























Ceramic objects are undoubtedly bearers of memory, whether historical, ideological or personal. I can still dimly remember the ceramic objects in my grandmother’s house. Some of them, placed on a shelf of her glass vitrine, had a traditional folk floral decor, while others, standing on its top, depicted figural motifs. Not all utility objects, however, have the privilege and protection of a glass vitrine. Why is it that people transform certain utility objects into purely esthetic ones?

Zuzana Svatík and Štefan Sekáč are certainly aware of the contexts pertaining to ceramic applied art. They do not necessarily try to come up with new unconventional forms of their objects; they work mainly with an archetypal morphology on which – by means of a partial spatial modification, duplication and exaggerated decoration – they apply new layers of meaning while strictly maintaining the functionality. The motif of apparent banality and kitsch is recurrently manifest in the formal as well as semantic level of their work. Their art directly reflects various phenomena in the context of social reality, while the original impulse of their motifs undoubtedly comes from the personal experience and individual life of the authors. Staged photographs that in this case accompany the reproductions of their ceramic works are an ironizing embodiment of the overexposed performativity of gender binary within a heteronormative society. The authors stylize themselves as a couple, illustrating the imaginatively ordinary situations of a life together, playing with the esthetics and poses known from the internet culture, lifestyle magazines or family albums, intensified by their snapshot character.

On a relatively simple shape based on the traditional pozdišovská ceramics of his home region, Štefan Sekáč applies casts of well-known common objects such as cucumber, rosary, stylized human hand, up to covering the vase’s whole surface with a regular pattern of balloon clusters. He further transforms his vases by decor, the most dominant one being the recurrent motif of fire and flames. It is no coincidence that exactly this motif has flooded the feeds of fashion influencers in the last couple of years. He directly reacts to the phenomenon of social media by portraying the notification from the well-known Instagram platform. The sacral motifs present on other objects straightforwardly refer to the tradition and culture of the region of pozdišovská ceramics. With the motif of cucumber, or of still life with cross and bird, the author guides us toward the authentic memories of growing-up in the countryside. The juxtaposition of these two formal as well as semantic levels urges us to read the motif of flames through the Christian terminology, where fire is connected with eternal damnation, with ecclesiastical jurisdiction and the ‘crime of witchcraft’, with the concept of ‘purifying flame’.

Zuzana Svatík covers her vases with inscriptions and modeled chewing gums, she works with a popular stylized heart shape, yet also with an image of a diabolical figure that foreshadows her figurative work oftentimes oscillating around Christian motifs. The characteristic feature of her multilayered work is painting on porcelain with intentionally naïve features. The author is not pursuing any realistic or idealized representation of her models. She creates stylized characters, almost action heroes, who constitute their own narratives. Her portrayal of ‘manliness’ is based on intentionally exaggerated stereotypes, whether it is the indulgence of violence, male competitiveness or commenting on women, thus directly referring to the concept of ‘toxic masculinity’. What is interesting about her illustrations of male figures, besides drawing attention to the bodily aspects of their masculinity, is the fact that a lot of her heroes can be assigned to a concrete social class, leading us toward the reading of their conservative political preferences. Her female heroes, on the other hand, provide a far simpler narrative. They are oftentimes reduced to physical objects, reminiscent of scenes from misogynistic advertising campaigns and pornography, with an obvious lack of concern for their psychologization. Not seldom they stand in contrast with their surroundings, producing an impression of apparent absurdity by their presence in this environment. They are repeatedly surrounded by conventionally ‘manly’ objects, such as cars, guns or ‘wild beasts’ like bears, tigers and snakes. In these compositions, the female body finds itself in a situation of immediate physical danger. The author works critically with the social status of women and points to the persisting patriarchy, while ironizing even herself as an irrational woman - decorator.

Both authors in the tradition of ceramic art decorate their products with scenes that are familiar to them, but their idiom does not aim at creating a harmonizing design or capturing a heroic moment. The frequent apparent sketchiness of their expression produces an impression of authenticity of their statements. Yet these, for their uniqueness, are in most cases just as likely to stay under the protection of display cabinets.



















︎ zuzana_svatik
zuzana.svatik@gmail.com


︎ s.e.x.a.c
stefansekac@yahoo.com

︎ zuzana_svatik
zuzana.svatik@gmail.com




︎ s.e.x.a.c
stefansekac@yahoo.com
Webdesigner: Jaroslava Karnoková
Curator: Ľuboš Kotlár
Graphic designer: Marek Menke





Graphic design:
Marek
Menke