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26 Sept 2014 – 6 Jan 2015
Mária Bartuszová. Provisional Forms

Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Poland

Curators: Marta Dziewanska and Gabriela Garlatyová
Loans by Kontakt: Mária Bartuszová

The exhibition „Maria Bartuszová: Provisional Forms” is an attempt to write a history that has never been written. Neither has it ever been conveyed in any coherent way, whereas this work is built on a dense mesh of incredibly potent and dynamic references, reversions and unexpected new departures – a record of hesitation and the search for a new language.

Originally from Prague, after graduating in 1961, Bartuszová, together with her husband, also an artist, moved to Košice, a backwater far away from the world of art. Innumerable group exhibitions, casual membership of the-then fashionable ‘Concretists’ Club’ and a few public projects were the sum total of her official artistic life. This was compounded by the limitations imposed by her life in a totalitarian system, financial problems and, in due course, the bringing up of children single-handedly. Under such circumstances, artistic experiments would seem quite a challenge. And yet, against all odds, Bartuszová’s works exude power and the will to overcome: her oeuvre consists of some 400 works; a lasting (in spite of their extreme fragility) testimony to her extraordinary struggles and formal experiments.

The majority of the artist’s works are made in plaster – a material by nature preparatory and impermanent. For this reason alone, despite their perfect shape, her sculptures are, as it were by design, tentative, unfinished and transitory. They connote mobility and hesitation – a hypothesis rather than a conclusion. On the occasions when Bartuszová succumbed to the temptations of using bronze or aluminium, she would immediately undermine, through either form or subject matter, their material weight: softening the material, putting it in motion, altering its proportions and mocking gravity. Her material of choice, however, appears to have been plaster (which was cheap) and it was plaster that was to become not only the material of her art but also – through its inherent impermanence and transitory nature – its core message.