Peter Kalmus, Brick Block I.

Peter Kalmus is one of the most productive artists in Slovakia – an autodidact who had been a member of the unofficial art scene before 1989...

F-57 Kalmus

Article of Inventory No.: F-57

Author: Peter Kalmus
Name of the Work: Tehlový kváder I. (Brick Block I.)
Year:     2003
Technique: combined technique
Material: combined material
Dimensions: 21,5 x 45,5 x 18 cm
Marked: at the bottom by a silver felt-tip pen “Tehlový kváder I.

Peter Kalmus is one of the most productive artists in Slovakia – an autodidact who had been a member of the unofficial art scene before 1989. His works are diverse and numerous, in terms of techniques they include drawing, prints, assemblage, painting, objects, installation and action art. His performances range from short, absurd “one act” art pieces to longer events including monotonous activities (e.g. riding a bicycle around a fountain) to public, non-violent protests responding to various political and social causes. Kalmus’s artistic programme includes several long term topics which he develops as a process regularly even obsessively. For example every day since 1988 he has ritually wrapped with a wire minimum one stone for every Jew who was deported during the existence of the so called Slovak State during WWII. Cycles Partitúry (Scores)and Korózne grafiky (Corosive Prints) also belong among his long term projects. His works focus thematically on politics, death, religion, sports and he develops these topics in a serious but also humorous ways, with a certain degree of specific playfulness and absurdity. He likes collecting old things found in flea markets or in trash and he recycles them and incorporates them in his works, he creates his own costumes, which he mostly showcases at exhibition openings. Peter Kalmus is an “artist with universal interests, a rebel, a critic of the former regime remnants and a marthone runner” [1], for who art is his lifestyle.

His work Tehlový kváder I. (Brick Block I.) is a part of the series where heavy volumes of a book edition series (e.g. Russian-Slovak/ Slovak-Russian dictionaries or Soviet encyclopaedia – these works can also be found in the Nitra Gallery) are welded in metal frames. The piece Tehlový kváder I. (Brick Block I.) includes publications, which are aimed for leisure or educational purposes about great minds of world art from Giotto to Impressionists. Here Kalmus uses books out of their primary function and gives everyday objects (in this case the books) another function in new circumstances. We can neither browse the books, nor read them, their content remains unknown to us. We can only perceive their spines as well as their front and back covers, which can be found on both ends (we can see that one of them is written in Italian).  In spite of that there are several ways of reading this art work. The multicoloured book covers gave rise to an object which can be critically classified as geometrical minimalism, the artistic style developed in 20th century.  “Old Masters” function here as an elementary building block for contemporary art and at the same time the material for Peter Kalmus’s artwork as the title suggests (it is possible to build the whole house out of bricks). The knowledge and information, which these books contain, are not accessible to us therefore we perceive them only as objects with a certain aesthetic function. In spite of that a person who is knowledgeable in art history can assume what information he or she could find in them. Kalmus ridicules the situation when effect of an art object is more important than its content and points to the fact that art objects do not have primarily any practical function.

PETER KALMUS was born in 1953 in Piešťany, he has lived mostly in Košice since he was 9 years old. He attended the Secondary School for Transportation in Košice, he is an art autodidact. During the normalization period he was a remarkable member of the unofficial underground art scene. In November 1989 he co-founded the Civic Forum in Košice. In 1990 -2012 he was a member of Spolok C + S, since 1992 he has been the member of the group Združenie 1992. He participated in numerous collective exhibitions, international exhibition symposiums and international festivals of action art. [2]

Omar Mirza


[1] Gabriela Kisová: (downloaded on October 3, 2012)

[2] Wikipedia: (downloaded on October 3, 2012)

This acquisition has been supported using public funds provided by the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic.