Svätopluk Mikyta and Palo Macho

Sabina Jankovičová

Palo Macho and Svatopluk Mikita’s common project was Macho’s idea. It is the result of his urge to explore the synergy potential of different media. Indeed, his perfect knowledge of glass and his sovereign mastery of the techniques make it possible for him to introduce other artists into the world of glass, until now completely new and unknown for them.

Macho is the only glass artist in Slovakia painting on glass… or shall I say painting in glass? Maybe glass painting? What is sure is that his painting is primarily that: painting. Glass is just the carrier for his artistic gesture. It replaces the canvas or any other traditional base. But glass as a material has specific properties that open up further possibilities for painting. And Macho does make the most of them. Indeed, no other material can give you what the natural properties of glass can, namely transparency, the possibility to look at it from both sides, to not only absorb but also to expel light, to apply layers of paint in space in addition to giving a haptic or embossed quality to its surface… All of which has been made available to Svätopluk Mikyta for his drawings.

Building upon graphic art, Mikyta — a remarkable draftsman — gives the leading role to the line. Knowing no restrictions of time and place, drawing has been Mikyta’s main means of expression for many years. In fact, several other artists also use drawing in their work, but not as obsessively and confidently as Svätopluk Mikyta, for whom a drawing is not a sketch, but rather the final product. Mikyta’s drawings group around two main areas: retouching existing works, mostly old reproductions or photographs, and diary drawings — everyday records and reflections on letter paper.

He irrupts into a finished visual area to disfigure it, to alter the template, to make ironic comments, to unveil significances disguised in the abducted image. His diary records are drawings a la prima in pencil, marker, pen and carbon paper. Neat, clear lines define shapes with resolution, showing precision and accuracy, the outright intention of the author. His symbolic drawings reflect what is going on right around him, where he moves, especially in Slovakia, and in real time. His symbolic drawings are compositions made out of mikyta-like motifs, in which the author conceals secret meanings: potatoes, spears, ropes, hands, crosses, and so on. Mikyta’s drawings comment on this world with irony and nostalgia, at times with hard-core sarcasm, sometimes again with sorrow and kindness. But this time they occur in a new medium: glass.

In their joint venture, one of the authors intervenes into the finished picture of the other one. A first group are Mikyta’s alterations to Macho’s paintings and/or drawings. On this occasion, Macho remains strictly monochromatic, minimalistic. His imprints into the painting glass surface have a pure gestic character, sometimes it is just a tiny brushstroke, an allegorical representation of architecture, a space delimited by a white line structure. Macho’s input is reduced to a white area on a dark background or to a white drawing-painting on matt glass. This total absence of coloration, untypical for Macho, intentionally lets Mikyta’s drawing stand out. On his part, Mikyta remains traditionally minimalistic as well. His input is a clean linear drawing of just one motif. The resulting work appears almost “empty”, maybe a bit too plain at first sight.

Its strength, however, lies in the exploitation of the possibilities of glass. The goal of the authors is to broadcast the drawing by projecting it beyond the glass pane. It is launched out of its base by means of galanty effects. It doubles, expands into space. It is mainly Mikyta who considers this galanty-drawing beyond the glass template to be the final product. Such a drawing is ephemeral, variable, multifaceted. It alters depending on the position of the glass pane in space, on the light and its intensity...

The second group of works in this common project presents drawing between layers of glass. The result are glass pictures-objects. In this case, the authors express themselves by means of drawing. Macho drawing in glass and partially corrugating it. Mikyta drawing in pencil. A line of graphite suddenly appears suspended in space, in the glass matter. A whole new ballgame for him. It now has two faces. And it is also spatial, it has multiple layers. Macho, on the other hand, is familiar with his element, “his home”. He reacts to the new situation, though, remaining inconspicuous and giving up colour.

Both artists hold to their very flower, but gain inspiration and experience from this mutual dialogue, learn to respect the expression of the other, to communicate, not to restrain one another. Let this dialogue continue as it opens new possibilities for both of them (and their media).