It is for the first time that in the Representative Halls of the Nitra Gallery in the premises of the Region House the exhibition of Slovak sculptor Josef Kostka (1912 - 1996) is going to be organised...
Jozef Kostka, A Classic of Slovak Modernism in Sculpture
curator: Marcela Macharáčková
musical guest: Juraj Madari – viola
exhibition opening: Thursday, March 21st, 2013, at 5 pm
venue: Representative Halls, Nitra Gallery, Župné námestie 3, Nitra
duration of the exhibition: until April 28th, 2013
works for the exhibition have been lent by: Jozef Kostka Gallery in Bratislava
It is for the first time that in the Representative Halls of the Nitra Gallery in the premises of the Region House the exhibition of Slovak sculptor Josef Kostka (1912 – 1996) is going to be organised. The centennial anniversary of his birth was celebrated by the solo exhibition in the Záhorie Gallery of Ján Mudroch in Senica, in the Zoya Museum in cooperation with the Slovak National Gallery in Modra and the smaller exhibition in the Peter Matejka Gallery in Nové Mesto nad Váhom. The current exhibition in Nitra makes a presentation of his life oeuvre (sculptures and drawings) bequested to the Jozef Kostka Gallery in Bratislava.
Jozef Kostka came from an old Haban lineage of pottery makers in Stupava na Záhorí. His first teacher was his uncle, a folk pottery maker Ferdiš Kostka. As a gifted young man Jozef Kostka followed the path of his ancestors and studied at the School of Applied Arts in Prague and during his study stay in Paris. He exhibited with Ján Mudroch and participated in the publication of poetry collections by Slovak surrealist poets with anti-war content. Kostka brought to Slovakia impulses from the Czech sculpture school of 20th C but also the French sculpture from Rodine to Maillol. Kostka’s animated sculptures, which stepped down from the pedestal of static memorials were accepted by the young generation of poets with enthusiasm. Rudolf Fábry called them poetic sculptures – sculptural poems. His early sculptures: A Girl with a Drapery (1939), Poetry (1939-42), Night (1940), Dream (1941-42), The Year Forty-four (1944) belong today among the most refined examples of Slovak modernist sculpture.
Kostka belongs among founders of Slovak postwar culture. In 1949 he was one of the co-founders of the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava and Slovak National Gallery. As a professor – pedagogue he educated generations of Slovak sculptors between 1948 and 1972. In the postwar period he created several monumental memorials dedicated to commemorate the Slovak National Uprising. His set of sculptures Defenders (Slovak National Uprising Memorial) in Partizánske is one of the most refined period examples in the genre in Slovakia. On the turn of the fifties and sixties Kostka’s works start to be more subtle. Searching for the best form he produced a number of drawings, which are the key to his sculptures. Kostka became a significant representative of sculpture drawings in Czechoslovakia. His drawings were admired by a number of art historians; in 1962 the monograph written by Karol Vaculík devoted to his drawings is published. During the period of social changes Kostka’s works are also transformed. His poetic imagination with a strong feeling for sculpture finds new forms and objects in metamorphoses of women bodies and flowers, in nature, stones, memories of his childhood in Marianka and Stupava. The sixties were his most productive period of life. In addition to a rich drawing activity a number of sculpture studies but also monumental sculptures (Great Ballad, A Big Flower, Matica, all 1967; Ruler, Found Object, both 1967–1968 and other) are created. In 1967 the artist enjoys the most productive period of his creative life but also critical recognition. He was awarded the title “national artist.” Kostka’s works from this period were evaluated by his complex solo exhibition in the Bratislava Art Centre and in Prague’s Mánes (1968 -1969).
He was engaged in social upheavals in the time of so called Prague’s Spring and Jozef Kostka like many other intellectuals and artists in the normalization period were persecuted. In 1973 he is forced to leave the Academy of Arts. He continues living and creating in his studio in Bratislava and in his garden in Záhorská Bystrica, where Kostka’s wooden rustic sculptures in minimalist design were created. His late works, less known to the public contains a number of critical social aspects. They are barren of all eye-taking details and poignantly speak about the artist’s state of mind. In his last years he intensively works on small ceramic pieces and he paints. Kostka and his works were rehabilitated in the eighties of 20th C, when the National Gallery in Prague organized his exhibition in Belvedere in the Prague’s Castle (1983) followed by the exhibition in the Slovak National Gallery at the 75th anniversary of the artist’s birth (1987).
Works by Jozef Kostka are very significant in Slovakia. They created an imaginary link transmitting the reception of European modernist tendencies in sculpture of 20th C into our culture. His inspiring and rich message has been followed by generations of Slovak sculptors.
Marcela Macharáčková, a niece of Jozef Kostka organises and sorts out the artist’s inheritance, and leads the Jozef Kostka Gallery in Bratislava.