Fulla / Macho

Zuzana Gažíková

The artistic cooperation between Palo Macho and a guest artist is delineated by their common work, into which both artists bring the specificities of their discipline. In doing so, both of them look for opportunities to mutually interconnect, transpose and overlap these peculiarities. The resulting work materialises a tantamount two-way dialogue between authors who respect each other while opening one another new horizons.

This strategy partly fits Macho’s “dialogue” with the work of one of Slovakia’s most representative artists from the 20th century, Ľudovít Fulla (1902 - 1980). The idea originated around 2003, but had to wait until the “Fulla Fragments” exhibition at Ľudovít Fulla Gallery in Ruzomberok in 2015 to come true. And it fits this concept just partially because, for obvious reasons, no real cooperation was possible. The strategy used in this case is becoming more and more popular in contemporary art. It consists in sophisticatedly borrowing, possessing oneself of or appropriating the work of another artist in order to recycle a whole piece of work, or just one of its fragments, ideas or concepts putting it into a new context and giving it new connections.

This kind of appropriation allowed Macho to “cooperate” beyond time and space. The author, who in his glass art is more of a painter than a sculptor or designer, clearly saw the unique inspiring potential of Fulla’s work. It resides not only in the attractive power of colour, but also in the lines and shapes of Fulla’s narrative and multilayer pictures, and in their smallest details, which might often be overlooked at first sight. To appropriate and remake the work by one of Slovakia’s major art icons such as Fulla takes a lot of courage. Macho, however, acquitted himself easily. On the one hand he did it with due respect and responsibility, but at the same time approaching the challenge confidently, without an exaggerated reverent attitude.

For this experiment he chose seven works by Fulla, of which he approached “Blumenthal Church” in a slightly more conservatively way than the rest, as - after all - it is one of Fulla’s realistic paintings. First he transferred the whole composition onto the glass surface before reprocessing the different parts of the resulting triptych with his artistic intervention; altering the composition, painting lines or creating a relief structure. A completely different approach was used with the works “Susanna and the Elders”, “Sun Over the Church”, “Dream at Shepherds Camp”, “Girl with a Grinder”, “Sitting Nude” and “At the Flea Market”. From these pictures Macho chose odd shapes as well as humorous and sometimes spicy themes and characters, and made them into objects of the material he is closest to. Keeping the shape and drawing and playing with size and colour, he engaged the most characteristic feature of glass: transparency. This gave origin not only to different works, but also to an installation of multiple objects called At The Flea Market where Macho allowed the typical features of Fulla’s eponymous small picture to rise from the canvas and shine in an open area in significant proportions.

Despite the fact that Fulla was physically absent from the whole process, through art Macho managed to establish a lively dialogue with him. What is more, he also involves the viewer into this art conversation. By looking at a work by a modern art icon in a humorous and playful way, Macho reveals, approximates, and reminds of similar elements present in Fulla’s work, such as a peculiar playfulness and a desire to experiment. At the same time, he also highlights the importance of continuity. Because, among other approaches, also appropriation, the way artists continue the line and respond to the work of their colleagues, was not alien to Fulla either. After all, his “Zuzana” is closer to Manet’s Olympia, Goya’s Maja, and Tizian’s Venus than to the biblical Susanne. Now, when I am about to finish, I am at a loss over whether I should not have written more about Macho than about Fulla. But I tell myself that this is precisely the best proof that although they never actually met, their dialogue was, indeed, genuinely alive. Still, they speak a common language while opening for the viewer new horizons for looking at the work of both artists.

Zuzana Gažíková