Erik Binder — Woodoo Čičmany

Erik Binder’s work is very diverse and moves across all art media and materials...

Inventory No.: O 2186
Artist: Erik Binder
Title: Woodoo Čičmany [Woodoo Čičmoney]
Year: 2015
Technique: acrylic; spray paint
Material: canvas
Dimensions: 150 cm height; 150 cm width
Signature: back of the canvas, brown marker: “Erik Binder WOODOO ČIC MONEY 201516”

Erik Binder’s work is very diverse and moves across all art media and materials. His works are created spontaneously, often at the end of the work process or directly on site (at the exhibition). He works with various visual references inspired by advertising, graffiti, hip-hop, kung-fu, comic books, eastern philosophy and western pop-culture. He always enjoys a good play on words and when he is trying to come up with a name for his latest artwork, he often creates new collocations. His absolute approach towards his creative process is relayed to the audience by putting any trivial object into new, visually rich and unexpected contexts. He is an unconventional, playful, witty and ironical creator who can also be contemplative and investigative and is able to blend pop-culture references with philosophical views into a single piece of art.

The Woodoo Čičmany painting is a part of the Nitra Gallery’s collection and belongs to a series of paintings of the same name. Erik Binder is one of a very few artists in Slovakia who have adopted the technique of spray paint on canvas which has its roots in graffiti and street art. The image is dominated by its simple theme and purposefully childish and naive form. The artist does not focus on its visual perfection, but rather on expressive gestures, quick and intuitive work, rough outlines of the landscape and characters, unfinished story, joining the “low” with the “high”. The bottom left corner features Binder’s typical “grinning” faces made in a few showy spray strokes. The little characters (of lost tourists?) in their half dreaming/half-nightmare state are wandering around Čičmany’s [a village in north-western Slovakia] phantasmagorical landscape where log houses with the compulsory antlers are not decorated with their characteristic “world-famous” ornaments, but rather popular or even vulgar symbols, signs and pictograms from urban walls or public bathroom stalls. The likeable colour scheme of the whole image is even accentuated by the meretricious sunset over the landscape which was created using stencils – another street art technique. The incorporation of paint drips, which are difficult to avoid completely when spray painting, might be Binder’s ironic reference to a fashionable trend in Slovak painting which uses “add-on” drip effects which are very much intentional even though they would not have to be there.

The Woodoo Čičmany cycle is also described in the catalogue of the Two Landscapes exhibition which was held at the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava in 2014: “The Woodoo Čičmany open series started in 2010 when Binder was on an artistic residency at the United States. Besides pieces like Woodoourbanism and Subway Kabala spray-painted on Manhattan subway maps, the artist also created a little piece of his homeland (and its black magic) in public space in front of his apartment window in New York. After persistent convicting of the building owner he was allowed to spray paint a mural which he called Woodoo Čičmany. The series also features a critical subtext, loosely corresponding with the level of Slovak ethnographic landscape in the days of our early capitalism. It touches upon the purity of one of the visual and anthropological constants of the Slovak countryside – the log houses of Čičmany, a curiosity, an open air museum decorated with ornaments (whose authenticity is sometimes challenged and accused of being self-colonising and hyperbolising the true Slovak exoticism).” [1]

Erik Binder was born on 21 February 1974 in Hnúšťa-Likier (today’s Hnúšťa). Until he was eighteen, he had lived in the Hybe Motel where his mother worked as a general manager. Between 1991 – 1996 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava (printmaking: prof. Jančovič, painting: prof. Fischer). In 1997 – 1998 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (printmaking: doc. Kokolia). Since 2002 he assisted to prof. Fischer at AFAD where he successfully defended his dissertation work Intersections of Science and Art and became ArtD in 2010. In 2001 and 2007 he was a finalist of the Oskár Čepan Award. In 2003 he exhibited together with the Czech art collective Kamera Skura at the Czech and Slovak Pavilion at the Venice Biennale an installation titled Superstart – a three-metre tall statue of Jesus Christ stylised as a gymnast practising the rings to the cheering of football fans.

He lives and creates everywhere, currently mostly at his studio – a former heating station in Karlova Ves, Bratislava.

[1] Quoted from, accessed November 11, 2019.

Omar Mirza
November 2019