East, West, Home Is Best: The Evolution of Slovak Colour

    • Belgrade 2017
    • Presentation speakers
      • Mima Chovancova, University of Brighton, UK


    Colour is a myth; it is a lyrical layer of history and thus deserves more scholarly attention within Slovak history. My paper examines the importance of the context-sensitive colour in Slovak painting when considering the artworks by key Slovak painters such as Martin Benka (1920s), Ľudovít Fulla and Mikuláš Galanda (1930s), Milan Laluha (1950s) and Jarmila Mitríková & Dávid Demjanovič from the present day. It proposes the idea of Westernisation of Slovak culture manifested through the ‘different colour’ infiltrations in art and design by analysing the historico-political aspect of the evolution of Slovakia and its culture and it introduces the idea of authentic Slovak expression rooted in the folk tradition and reinvented in contemporary art. There seem to be two major strands within the contemporary Slovak art scene today. The cynical one is pretty obvious. After the Velvet Revolution, Slovakia had to take in 50 years of western consumerist culture and absorb it into its own. The result was an emergence of various hybrid expressions in art (and music). Today’s generation is a part of the globalised society and Slovakia keeps undergoing one identity crisis after another. Questioning or dismissing the westernisation of our culture is one way, and regionalism or the revival of our folklore heritage seems to be another. Stalls mimicking a rural cottage, selling organic Slovak cheese under a “Grandpa’s Groceries” banner are definitely hipster gimmicks and just a mere cashing in on the consumer’s desire for an “individual” experience. Nevertheless, if we approach this issue through colour, we can find genuine examples of reinvention in contemporary art.