Žofia Dubová: Places Beyond Roads
Curator: Juliana Mrvová
Official opening: 25 March 2022, 6 pm
Duration of exhibition: 26 March – 22 May 2022
Location: Grand Hall, Jozef Kollár Gallery, Nám. Sv. Trojice 8, Banská Štiavnica
Žofia is painting a mountain.
The girl is climbing a mountain and observing the mirroring of cliffs in the frozen lake.
Žofia is painting lakes, clouds and avalanches.
The girl on skis is observing an avalanche from a site in a deep valley, to which the surrounding gullies are mouthed.
Two women are ascending to a saddle carrying their alpine bivouac and preparing for staying overnight.
Žofia is drawing a wave by graphite on glass, smelts the drawing in a burning oven, and applies almost invisible glitter on the glass board.
“I observed the clouds mounting over each other. I was fascinated to see how various shapes can suddenly appear from the white, a completely new image every few seconds.”
The girl is riding a wave and observing a shower of drops turning into a cloud.
Wave, avalanche, cloud; elusive and seemingly non-material, but, still, able to alter the surroundings.
Žofia paints natural phenomena which have a transformative potential in terms of their impact on both the landscape and the observer. The fact she is a thorough observer is proven by her fascinating daily journals she keeps when climbing mountains. She captures the seen not only by the eyes of a climber, but mainly by those of a painter. Her painting, however, is not of a journal kind; it is not a quick record of the seen, rather, it makes the viewer observe long, just like Žofia observes the mountain. The paintings on glass and canvas are created through a synthesis of the seen and the experienced, offering an opportunity for deep immersion into light and atmospheric phenomena that took place in the countryside. For a number of years, Žofia has been moving beyond the borderlines of painting, not only in formal terms, but mainly by intensively scrutinising the boundaries of the painting’s space and the physical prerequisites of painting on canvas. From initial experimenting with taking off and re-stretching the canvas, she is moving toward doing spatial installations of canvas and glass. She has been painting on glass for a long time; a newer approach of hers is the combining of glass and canvas into one image unit.
Žofia’s painting has long lost its frame; moving beyond the painting’s area is an important moment of both the artwork’s expansion into the surrounding space and its liberation from boundaries given not only by the frame. In the current installation in the Jozef Kollár Gallery the painting on canvas has become the supporting frame for the painting on glass. The canvas adopts the function of the subframe for the delicate painting on glass as well as for the very material glass board which leisurely leans against the canvas hanging from the ceiling. Therefore, an intense sensation of instability arises, making the viewer feel uncertain, even doubtful. Will the canvas sustain the weight of the glass? Will the ice crust on snow sustain my steps?
“I wanted the canvas be for glass what the blind frame is for the canvas.”
The canvases are freely hanging; unfixed to a frame, they are descending by slow rappelling into space, to the bottom of a ravine, having the colour freely outflowing from the slowly melting snow. The mountain on the glass is firm and settled, but its transparency enables us to see it as a projection of our own thoughts on the canvas behind. Perhaps, it is a reflection on the lake surface or a mirage from heat, unanchored and loose, continuing beyond its bounded area.
“Can we go round a mountain just like round a painting? What, in fact, does it mean to go round a mountain? Do we keep looking at the same thing, although it keeps changing? Personally, I see it meaningful to combine viewing with movement.” Žofia’s small glass boards stimulate people to observe the landscape from various viewpoints, revealing the variety of the landscape’s layers. And, so are the large canvases which unveil the averted side of a mountain.
Žofia Dubová paints a landscape that we wish to see; the one which appears in our imagination, which can be seen in a cloud we observe long. „A mountain from the North, a lake from the South, roads from the West, a river from the East. It is a definition of space as well as a description of an oasis, a paradise. A centre and a collusion of my painted, contemplated, lived world.“ (1)
(1) László Krasznahorkai, A mountain from the North, a lake from the South, roads from the West, a river from the East. Praha: Mladá fronta, 2008. A mountain from the North is the title of Žofia Dubová’s dissertation work, from which the quotes originate.)
photo by: Peter Ančic