SLOVAKIAN NEO-AVANT-GARDE | Rudolf Sikora, Július Koller and the First Open Studio
Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
27. January 2017 - 12. March 2017


curator: Ivana Janković, MSU Zagreb

The Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, in collaboration with the Institute for the Research of the Avant-Garde and the Marinko Sudac Collection is opening an exhibition of Rudolf Sikora (Žilina, 1946) and Július Koller (Piestany, 1939 — Bratislava, 2007), notable protagonists of the Eastern-European Neo-Avant-Garde scene.

Works of these artists are a part of some important collections and museums such as: Tate Museum, New York's MoMA, galleries in Bratislava, Generali Foundation, in Kontakt Collection of Este Bank, and in many other European galleries and private collections. The exhibited works are a part of a collection of Avant-Garde and Neo-Avant-Garde 20th c. European art - the Marinko Sudac Collection - which, with rich documentary material works as a platform for the research of the artistic practices through the Institute for the Research of the Avant-Garde.
On this occasion, the Zagreb audience will get a chance to see for the first time the work of two artists who have, with their works, marked the direction of (Czecho)-Slovak art in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 

After 1968, during the (Czecho)-Slovak repression all the "experimental" (conceptual) artists were forbidden to exhibit in public galleries in the then Czechoslovakia. Some were even expelled from the Artists' Society due to "cultural-political reasons", while every attempt for exhibiting abroad was mostly sabotaged by the state apparatus. This atmosphere forced them to subversive action, organisation of exhibitions and other forms of presentation in alternative spaces. This includes exhibitions and meetings in artists' studios and private apartments, actions and public events, or even organising a fictitious gallery, as well as the use of various unconventional, experimental methods such as Mail-art, poster as a form of exhibition, Land Art, site-specific events or situational dramas.

A similar situation can as well be observed in other countries behind the Iron Curtain, with certain specific elements and depending on the level of the regime control (and with that the artistic freedom), which resulted in the emergence of many independent galleries and activities in ex-Yugoslavia (Ljubljana, Zagreb, Belgrade, Novi Sad), as well as in Czechoslovakia, Poland, or Hungary.  

In the turbulent time of the so-called Czechoslovakian normalisation, Koller and Sikora critiqued the officially proposed "modernist painting", the critique of the system of power, an the fundamental problems of the origin of humans and civilisations, cosmology, ecology, esotericism, and astronomy.Alongside Koller's well-known photographs and mail-art works from the "UFO-naut" series, documentacion of the fictitious "UFO - Ganek Gallery" on the highest top of the same name in the High Tatras, documentation of his anti-happenings and actions, there will also be exhibited Sikora's emblematic works which, until now, were exhibited rarely or only partially - the "Topography" series, land-art action documentation "Our of the City", and some of their joint "utopian" projects. The centrepoint of the exhibition are the works exhibited in a unique exhibiting space of the so-called "First Open Studio", held in the private house of Rudolf Sikora in Bratislava. There, the most important innovative (Cezcho)-Slovakian Neo-Avant-Garde artists of the 1960s and 1970s were presented - those engaging in Conteptual art, Body Art, actions, Land Art, Object Art, installations, Fluxus, kinetic art. The one-day event gathered 19 artists from three different generations:  Milan Adamčiak (1946), Peter Bartoš (1938), Václav Cigler (1929), Róbert Cyprich (1951-1996), Milan Dobeš (1929), Igor Gazdík (1943), Viliam Jakubík  (1945), Július Koller (1939-2007), Vladimír Kordoš (1945), Ivan Kříž-Vyrubiš (1941), Otis Laubert (1946), Juraj Meliš (1942), Alex Mlynárčik (1934), Marián Mudroch (1945), Jana Shejbalová-Želibská (1941), Rudolf Sikora (1946), Ivan Štěpán (1937), Dezider Tóth (1947), Miloš Urbásek (1932).

Organisers: Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, the Institute for the Research of the Avant-Garde (Zagreb), Marinko Sudac Collection (Zagreb)
Curator: Ivana Janković
Exhibition setup: Negra Nigoević, Ivana Janković
Exhibition assistant: Dorotea Fotivec
Volounteers: Mihaela Zajec, Marek Varga, Silvia Zaplatić, Katarina Šviglin, Ivan Duždagić
The exhibition has been realised with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia.

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