Macho (portrait)

Katarína Bajcurová

Palo Macho is, indeed, one of the most original contemporary Slovak glass artists, known mostly for his innovative approach to glass. The uniqueness of his position lies in the fact that he has been working with painting on and in glass for a long time, and has achieved remarkable results and recognition at home as well as abroad. He is both a painter and a glassmaker moving at the border of two disciplines - painting, a free art discipline, and glassmaking, traditionally regarded as a utility (i.e. decorative) artistic expression.

He started working with colour and painted glass at the department of glass painting at the Secondary Glassmaking School in Kamenický Šenov, where he learned his craft and became familiar with the techniques that characterise the Czech glass-making tradition. While at university in Bratislava - where, in turn, no attempts to stain or paint glass had appeared - he was led to think in rather different - spatial and shape - dimensions. It was not until the first years of his professional career that he went back to colour and painted glass, inspired by his teaching experience at the Glass Painting Department of the School of Applied Arts in Lednické Rovné, the only specialised secondary glassmaking school in Slovakia. Indeed, his work stands on time-honoured research as well as on an intimate knowledge of the glassmaking techniques, especially of melted and slumped glass panels. Macho combines colour with glass (its surface) following principles similar to those of classical painting. Instead of canvas, he uses glass panes. Instead of paint whose tones you can see immediately, he uses pigments that only reveal their final shade after going through fire. His pictures consist of several layers: lower, middle and surface paintings blend together into the final image. For that reason, everything must be previously conceived, planned, tested. Still, it needs to bear the author's gesture, his touch in the form of a print of a hand, of a brush, of a spatula ...

Innumerable tests had to be made before the kilt began to deliver panes that could be called paintings sui generis. Macho prefers working with panel glass, shaping and forming it hot, allowing him to create two-sided relief-paintings, object-paintings. One can walk around them, look at them from both sides, and each side will show a different image, depending not only on the degree and type of pigment, of the underside and surface matting, but also on the transparency, on the amount of light the colours absorb and emit, as well as on the reflection of surrounding light altering the surface structure of the image. Macho makes ingenious use of transparent and opaque colours, using metals, lustre, matt and shine, dividing the board into transparent and non-transparent sections. The fact that when melting the glass pane, he combines several layers of paint complemented by an uncomplicated line motif on both the underside and the surface, gives his object-paintings relief and depth, creating the illusion of inner space as well as of a plot. Lately, inspired by the poetry of geometry, he has used glass and painting to try and depict the concept of vessel. Elsewhere, he has moved to another, rather contradictory position of gestic expression. At all times, though, he tries to tackle the challenge of finding new and non-established rules for creating his paintings and objects. Thus, he has invited several renowned Slovak artists to cooperate.

Despite the fact that, for Palo Macho, working with glass is a highly intellectual activity standing on mental deliberation, which in turn stands on mastered technological skills, and although he does not rely on the purposeless beauty or mystique of glass, the resulting works carry a strong emotional drive and an association potential that cause to meditate and think.