Juraj Kollár (1981) is an inconspicuously conspicuous artist and a pure painter. Classical photo-documentation of his art is practically impossible, or it is so superficial that it loses all power to transmit the experience which is offered when we look at his works directly, close-up. Besides, he manages without conceptual connotations, and it is evident that painting here is not hiding behind something else: quite the contrary, it strikes the viewer in its natural form, whether that be abstract, landscape, cityscape, portrait or figural motifs. The thoroughness with which the artist approaches observation and subsequent painting is expressed also in how he perceives the overall space and the lighting conditions. When I came to his studio it was in dusk. He had not turned on the light. Kollár works only in natural light, which in our geographical zone is much-reduced in wintertime. This adaptation to the natural conditions – even when in the urban setting of the studio, not the open air – is evident also in his understanding of the image as a permeable structure. He looks on the image as a structure through which it is possible to see out, and this structure is again more or less permeable. The illumination of images with artificial light creates a further filter of perception, which we can switch off when we wish.
The net or grille structure which often appears in Koller’s oil paintings evokes a kind of renaissance approach to perspective. Seeing as the artist does, we may perceive this perspective not only as a technical aid but, on another level, also as a shift in the significance of the content produced. The net becomes on the one hand a medium, on the other hand a supporting construction, of meanings: it points to the visual grid or pixelation of information through which we view the everyday reality around us. This is so distorted by subjective perception and optical illusions that often we are scarcely able to keep the essentials of it in view, without manipulation, for longer than a moment. Any halting or freezing of the moment of truth is thus unforgettable.
An important aspect of Kollár’s work, besides the light and the grid, is the scale of the image and the pastosity of the painting. Both elements play their part in terms of the overlap with other media: thanks to pastosity, the paintings come close to being a sculptural object and create reliefs which in places are reminiscent of ceramic mosaic murals. This is a parallel that cannot be disregarded. The scale of the picture is deliberately over-dimensioned in relation to the artist himself and the viewers. Sometimes the “magnification” is composed of smaller square formats and works up to an architectural solution of space even more dominant than the example in the current exhibition, whose title is taken from the number of the abstract painting 0105. It was the latter picture which motivated the production of the “doubled” painting we see here, 01052017. The first 0105 painting was produced in Prague in 2008, the second in Bratislava in 2017. Observing 0105 at an interval of time, the artist chose its current depiction through the analogical after-effect of the glass-and-concrete blocks, which evoke the architecture of the 1970s. We thus see something from the past through the filter of something else that evokes the past, and in a double mode: on the one hand Kollár is not using contemporary digital effects to change the perspective, while on the other hand he is gathering historical material connected with the past. The cleavage and haziness to view of this single picture is intensified through the influence of various filters, of which there are a number here: the original painting, time, glass-and-concrete, interpretation, light.
The dominant position of the “original” painting, as a point of departure, is altogether fundamental, and even if it is physically absent from the exhibition as such, it figures in the exhibition’s title. Indeed, its absence shapes the significances of the new picture. We may think of the new painting as an analogous reproduction, which nonetheless creates a new original. This pair of paintings has its anchorage in certain places at certain times. Simultaneously, this pair is one picture with a time- and site-specific reflection on the artist’s own work: 2008– 2018 / Prague – Bratislava. Furthermore, thanks to the glass- and-concrete object and the built-in glass-and-concrete blocks at the gallery entrance, there is also a manifest overlap to a site-specific installation, which is inconspicuous but not coincidental.