Lucia Dovičáková — This Used To Be My Playground / Mama (Robot)

The acquisition of these two works by Lucia Dovičáková is a part of Nitra Gallery’s strategy to accumulate pieces by the still underrepresented female artists and add them its collection...



Artist: Lucia Dovičáková
Title: This Used To Be My Playground (O-2190); Mama (Robot) (O-2191)

Inventory No.: O-2190, O-2191
Year: 2016 (O-2190), 2015 (O-2191)
Technique: acrylic
Material: canvas
Dimensions: 100 x 120 cm (O-2190) 90 x 70 cm (O-2191)
Signature: rear side bottom right, signature, title and year

The acquisition of these two works by Lucia Dovičáková is a part of Nitra Gallery’s strategy to accumulate pieces by the still underrepresented female artists and add them its collection.

The paintings depict themes that are inspired by (the artist’s) motherhood. As the artist herself stated joyfully: “by acquiring the images, you have given a chance to worn-out women/mothers to rest a little in the gallery’s depository.”

The painting titled This Used To By My Playground, 2016 (O-2190) depicts a pleasant, even tacky scene: a mother’s body (or rather her torso) sunk into a large armchair, “relaxing” with women’s footwear lying around – a pair of high heel shoes (what else, the high heel shoe as a symbol of the most female footwear, the high heel shoe as a symbol of the most ridiculous, unwearable type of shoe for a mother of little children). The idyllic image is enriched by two children (a boy and a girl – as that is the ideal ratio, two children, a boy and a girl) playing with colour cubes (“Haha, mom’s legs are made of cubes, how funny”)… And here comes the breaking point when we realise what we are looking at – it is not a pleasant image at all. It is a critical image. It is an image of duties, roles, our own (sometimes outdated) ideas and notions of motherhood (parenthood). We realise the mother in the chair has no face. No face? That could mean she is no longer being herself, she is somebody else, or somebody had imagined her face would look different as a mother, and what does a mother’s face look like anyway? Is anyone even interested in a mother…? Dovičáková’s works can be interpreted in many different ways.

Her themes full of worries and (guilty) pleasures of motherhood continue in the second image titled Mama (Robot), 2015 (O-2191). The mother/painter moves from the living room to the kitchen to feed “her” little girls (in reality, she is a mother to a single boy). The mother in the image is depicted as every other normal woman/mother/robot. Women/mothers are often confronted with demanding ideas of themselves and ruthless demands of their surroundings. That is why Dovičáková’s work can be so rewarding, because every single woman can find herself in her images, no matter who she actually is – whether she is a princess with a handful of faded dandelions waiting for her prince on a black horse or a woman who wants to turn into a man (e.g. into Dalí) or she is as fragile as a daisy or a zinnia in a vase or she feels like a queen or a shoe diva.

Dovičáková uses a very direct and contemporary language to ask both herself and us, women, about womanhood. What is the actual role of women, what is their role in life, what makes women themselves…? Dovičáková’s women are little girls/ virgins/ delights/ mothers/ uteruses/ flowers/ draft horses/ wretches/ show offs/ lovers/ keepers/ preservers/ constants/ boxes/ foxes/ mother-to-bes/ comforters/ harlots/ brides/ beasts/ sinners/ miserables/ convicts/ wardens/ (p)leaders/ widows/ singles/ sleepovers/ samaritans/ playmates/ milfs/ shakers/ culprits… the painter has no boundaries – she captures women the way we are – DIVERSE. Her works are often partially self reflective. Her initial satire takes a quick turn and digs deeper into uncovering women’s doubts, hysteria, vanity, pleasures, desires, fantasies, instincts, flaws, neuroses. The decor of her images is not a pointless, self serving gesture with no intellect. Lucia Dovičáková’s work touches upon feminism and post-colonial theories. Her pieces clearly define important factors like gender, class, race, sexual orientation. Dovičáková has become an intelligently perceptive Love Story and Harlequin of contemporary Slovak painting depicting human desires, contradictions and stereotypes.

Lucia Dovičáková (1981) lives and works in Košice. She studied at the Faculty of Arts at the Technical University of Košice where she is currently working on her doctoral degree. She exhibits regularly both at home and abroad (selected solo exhibitions: Ave Eva, Bratislava, 2020; Hold Your Horses, Bratislava, 2019; To be a woman is… Nové Zámky, 2017; Mammalia, Žilina, 2015; One Night Stand Girls, Prague, 2012; Roses of the Lady of the House, Košice, 2012; My Small, Bratislava, 2008; selected group exhibitions: Portrait of Women in Mass Media, Bratislava, Klagenfurt, 2017; Fem(inist) Fatale, Bratislava, 2016; What have we cooked, Bratislava, 2014; Zero years, Berlin, 2013; Blood, Bratislava, 2012; cooter II: Young Art Biennial, Trnava, 2011; Inter-view, Nitra, 2010; The Insconspicuous Medium, Žilina, 2009; Draught, Žilina, Praha, 2005). She has been a finalist of the VUB Foundation award several times; in 2011 she won the Tatra banka Foundation Art Award for Young Creative Artist; in 2006 she was a finalist of the Oskar Čepan Award.

Ľudmila Kasaj Poláčková
February 2020

The acquisition was supported using public funds provided by the Slovak Arts Council in 2019.