The apocalypse rider theme is an important or rather key motive in all of Vincent Hložník’s work...
Inventory No.: O-1142
Artist: Vincent Hložník
Title: The Apocalypse Rider I.
Dimensions: 63,5 x 48,5 cm
Signature : bottom right V.H.80.X., in charcoal
The apocalypse rider theme is an important or rather key motive in all of Vincent Hložník’s work. It is present in his early expressionistic works reflecting and responding to the horrors of war as well as in the Apocalypse of the artist’s later period when he self-reflects on his own “personal life traumas” of an individual.
The artwork is a part of the Nitra Gallery’s collection and features a figurative, stylised composition of a horseman. It consists mostly of earth tones that could be a metaphor of the mud (clay, matter) we are all made of and need to struggle with throughout our lives.
The Apocalypse horseman is a Biblical character and he is not alone, there is four of them. In religious literature, the characters appear in the Revelation to John. They are demons from Heavens that can rule over life and death. One of the horsemen is sometimes called antichrist and has enough power to destroy all of his adversaries. He brings victory for himself, and war, famine and death for everyone else. All four horsemen are a symbol of any kind of death and our last days on Earth… Hložník’s composition is set up in the shape of the letter V – which stands for Victory. There is no argument about whose victory he means – the rider on the flaming horse always wins and we are always defeated, by life and death at the same time. The rider’s deformed body is rather androgenic, balancing between male and female form. We can only imagine their gender, as they are not human, but a being that has a hungry vulture waiting behind their back that is ready to feast on dead bodies. The horseman is riding through a generic grey and brown landscape. He is wandering the muds of life as he is the messenger of death.
Slovak painter, printmaker, illustrator, sculptor and teacher Vincent Hložník was born in Svederník, on October 22, 1919 and died in Bratislava on December 10, 1997. He belonged to one of the most important representatives of Slovak fine art and the generation of artists of the World War II. Between 1937-1942, he studied at The Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. He was a friend of Cyprián Majerrník, Ján Želibský or Július Nemčík. He was a member of the Mánes Association of Fine Artists and the 29th August Artists Group. Between 1952-1972 he taught at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava and led the Department of Free Printmaking (former Department of Printmaking). During this time, he also co-founded and led the Department of Monumental Painting. Between 1995-1959, he worked as the university’s vice-rector and between 1060-1974, he was the rector. He brought up a whole generation of printmakers that have become known as the Hložník School. After he was forced out of the academic grounds, he worked as a freelance artist.
Vincent Hložník’s work was very fruitful and miscellaneous. He focused on painting, printmaking, book illustrations… Spiritually, his work relies on human principles and man’s attitude towards life and approaches them from ethical and social perspective. Hložník was also a wonderful drawer. He exhibited at many solo and group exhibitions both at home and abroad. He illustrated a lot of books for both children and adults. He also focused on sacral iconography. All of the artistic genres and techniques he used came to him naturally. His early works are influenced by expressionism, during the 1950s and 1960s he focused on printmaking and abstract media. His work of the 1970s is marked by his son’s death. Between 1974-1989 he focused mostly on the theme of the Apocalypse. All of his later works incorporate fictional imagery. Hložník often exhibited at home and abroad. He received many domestic and international awards throughout his life.
Ľudmila Kasaj Poláčková
Bibliography: PETRANSKÝ, Ľudovít: V.Hložník. Bratislava. Slovenský Tatran. 1997