23.07.2021 JARMILA MITRÍKOVÁ & DÁVID DEMJANOVIČ: Whispering shadows, blazing flames, and the green oracle

Stucco Hall

Whispering shadows, blazing flames, and the green oracle 
Curator: Mária Janušová 
Official opening: 23.7.2021
Duration of exhibition: 24.7. – 5.12.2021 
Location: Stucco Hall, Jozef Kollár Gallery, Námestie Sv. Trojice 8, Banská Štiavnica 

This Exhibition is presented by the Slovak Mining Museum – Jozef Kollár Gallery in Banská Štiavnica. The Slovak Mining Museum is under the Ministry of the Environment of the Slovak Republic. 

Whispering shadows, blazing flames, and the green oracle, an exhibition of works by Jarmila Mitríková and Dávid Demjanovič, may be viewed in our Gallery’s Stucco Hall, the name of which refers to the exhibition hall’s precious stucco decoration. These two artists, life partners who also work together, find motivation for their work in folk culture, Slavic mythology, ethnology, space science, sci-fi cinematography and literature, the visual culture of socialist Czechoslovakia and the current global social-political environment. Their work is defined by bizarre, collage-like combinations of a variety of motifs blended into complex images. By interconnecting various visual signs, the artists create new meanings, contexts, and interpretations for them. Although the paintings of Mitríková & Demjanovič are visually pleasing, primarily due to their use of both the traditional technology of pyrography and rich pastel colours, by immersing oneself deeper into their works, one can experience sudden uncertainty, anxiety, fear, even horror from viewing the critical and tragicomic symbols the paintings present.

The Jozef Kollár Gallery exhibition presents a part of the artists’ work that is newer and less known – ceramic objects. Although, Jarmila Mitríková studied ceramics at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, she returned to this work, together with her partner, just a few years ago. Like the technology of pyrography, ceramics is also among typical folk crafts having a long tradition in Slovakia. It is apparent that Mitríková and Demjanovič are strongly interested in folk art. By selecting traditional folk techniques, they depart from, perhaps, the elitist world of contemporary art, thus making their works more accessible to a broader public. 

Whispering shadows, blazing flames, and the green oracle presents the duo’s ceramic works, with the mask as a unifying motif. The masks in the exhibit refer to folk traditions, superstitions and pagan traditions practiced in our part of the world long before the arrival of Christianity.  In ancient times, the use of masks was typical for rituals celebrating a solstice or equinox. By wearing masks, people could change their identity for a while, indulge in boundless joys, and even commit aggressive or wicked deeds. Symbols of aspects of nature were often incorporated in the masks, including of the animal world, thus showing the interconnectedness of human communities with the natural environment. In ancient times, people lived their lives respecting and valuing nature, unlike people today who believe themselves masters of the world. Therefore, we now face the consequences of a climate crisis, including floods, tornados, droughts, and unbearable heatwaves. How would it be if we had remained a nation of nature, believing in magic, wizardry and superstitions? For a moment, the exhibition allows us to return to our mysterious past, to the reality of our predecessors, before it was subdued by Christian faith. 

By installing the artworks in the historic stucco hall, having its floor covered by bright green carpet, and using a centralised architecture of white gallery pedestals, the exhibition has turned into an oracle, a place of ritual and experience.

Jarmila Mitríková and Dávid Demjanovič are art and life partners. In 2011, they graduated from the Academy of Arts and Design in Bratislava, where Jarmila Mitríková studied ceramics (Ivica Vidrová’s studio) and painting (Ivan Csudai’s studio), and Dávid Demjanovič intermedia (Anton Čierny’s studio). They have presented their artwork at a number of exhibitions and have been on several residencies both in Slovakia and internationally. Their works are in the Slovak National Gallery’s collections, as well as in several public and private collections in Slovakia and abroad. They are represented by the Italian gallery Studio d’Arte Raffaelli. Currently, they live and work in Košice. Jarmila is an external PhD student in the Studio of Graphics and Experimental Art, Faculty of Arts, Technical University in Košice, and Dávid works as an assistant professor in the ASK 3D Studio at the same Faculty. 

Text: Mária Janušová

Photo by: Lubomír Lužina

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