ROBO KOČAN: STORIES IN DEPOSITORIES
This single-theme exhibition of the photography of Robo Kočan opens the doors to the Room 101’s of a selection of Slovak galleries: in a series of illustrated stories, it searches for secrets and contexts in depositories, the main arteries of institutions of memory. Photographs taken by the artist between 2013 and 2015 during the Digital Gallery project reveal his fascination with bizarre still lifes from encoded and layered works of art. The exhibition is one of several projects which commemorate the 35th anniversary of the opening of the Gallery of Spiš Artists and is presented as part of the Themes cycle of exhibitions.
Robo Kočan is a versatile and highly talented artist who is interested in experimental and multimedia approaches to photography and novel staging techniques. Over the course of almost thirty years, he has experimented with classic black-and-white and colour photography, a process which he has developed in tandem with the digital manipulation of his work. During a two-year digitalization project conducted in collaboration with the Slovak National Gallery, the artist visited galleries all across Slovakia; while carrying out his photo documentation activities he became interested in the sculptures held in storage which formed an inanimate hidden world in various states of preservation. The idea of photographing still lifes only arose after the artist had addressed the confrontations between spaces and stored sculptures from various periods or compositions featuring works of art which had been temporarily relocated in corridors or exteriors while still in their protective packaging. The presented works are a photographic cycle which was created in four institutions: the Orava Gallery in Dolný Kubín, the City Gallery in Bratislava, the Slovak National Gallery in Zvolen Castle and the Regional Gallery in Prešov.
In the seemingly static images we can discern a narrative, a calming atmosphere, compositional perfection, poetic correlations and an artistic message to which the monochromatic black-and-white scale adds a certain vintage quality. As Josef Sudek said, “the charm of everything is in its mystery”, and Kočan’s Stories in Depositories directly correspond to this message. The exhibition is purposefully complemented by the artist’s hand-bound photo-books from his digitization and studio work or his travels, and a monograph from 2018. An accompanying slideshow documents the work in the depositories, while sculptures from the Gallery’s collection serve as a marginal substitute for the artworks which remain in storage. The tireless search for innovative means of expression has led Robo Kočan to the boundaries of classical media: the endless combinations of traditional and modern techniques form an “alchemical” synthesis of media: installations, music and experiments with the creative language of painting and photography. Stories in Depositories forms part of the mosaic of his multifaceted work and confirms his unique position on the contemporary photography scene of central Europe. We wish you good light, Robo Kočan!
Mgr. Lucia Benická, exhibition curator
Robo Kočan (*1968, Poprad, Slovakia) studied photography at the Secondary School of Applied Arts in Košice and in 1996 graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava (photography at Dpt. of Visual Arts). He also studied at Nottingham Trent University (1993, Great Britain) and at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in Dijon (1993, FR). He has participated in several artist-in-residency programs, such as SPACES (2003, Cleveland, USA), Crossroads for Ideas (2004, Glamorgan, Wales, GB) and, Hájovňa (2021, Banská Štiavnica, SK). His work has been shown in a number of individual and collective exhibitions both at home and abroad (CZ, FR, PL, DE, AT, NL, USA, HUN, GR, NO, DK, RO, IE, GB). Kočan´s photographs are held in public and private collections worldwide (Gallery of Spiš Artists in Spišská Nová Ves, SK; Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava, SK; Tatra Gallery in Poprad, SK; Central Slovakian Gallery in B. Bystrica, SK; National Gallery in Prague, CZ; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houson, USA; European Central Bank, Frankfurt, DE) and private collections worldwide (CZ, PL, AT, NL, FR, USA, CAN, AU and others). He lives and works in Poprad, Slovakia.
Curator: Mgr. Lucia Benická – GUS
Translations: Gavin Cowper
Design: Mgr. art. Ivana Babejová, ArtD. – GUS
Translation: Gavin Cowper