Katarína Hládeková – She is Troubled by the Mountains

12/12 2018 – 2/2 2019
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Artist: Katarína Hládeková

In Katarína Hládeková’s work we encounter the focus on personal stories, tradition and family narratives. The author works with archive material, but instead of interpreting them mechanically, she connects them with the contemporary world and creates imagery of life in society. 
Katarína Hládeková’s exhibition “She Is Troubled by the Mountains” builds on her long-running research project “The Poetry Collection”. This series of exhibition projects realized by the means of visual poetry deals with the theme of homeland, which Hládeková observes from different perspectives. For the exhibition “She Is Troubled by the Mountains”, the artist chose a personal perspective, an inner point of view, which complements her existing exhibition projects contemplating landscape.
Not only does the title “She Is Troubled by the Mountains” refer to the experience involving the landscape but also to the tradition of the depiction of mountains in the Slovak landscape painting. At the same time, it is also a paraphrase of the inner feelings of an actual historical figure – a woman and a stranger Katarína Hládeková used to hear about and whose story she has been telling using visual language. Furthermore, the artist employs stylized figure motifs and uncovers the extraordinary fate of this woman – Matrena Makovická, the wife of Dušan Makovický (a Slovak writer, journalist and the physician of Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy who was greatly admired by both spouses). Katarína Hládeková says: “Through subjective lenses, the theme of mountains, which have been a source of never-ending inspiration for the Slovak culture, suddenly becomes a symbol of turmoil and tragedy caused by rejection, alienation and the impossibility of escaping this suffering. She is troubled by the mountains.” While using the means of visual storytelling, the author brings to light the fate of a Russian woman who arrives with her husband to his homeland where she does not get along with her in-laws, neither does she know the local customs, language and traditions. Only the omnipotent mountains keep looming over her like a watchful jailor. 
The author employs a metaphorical message which helps to uncover the image of one person’s inner strength and refers to the formed attitudes to life which become a part of the artistic creation. In order to narrate her new and original visual story, Hládeková makes use of various media and creates a unique installation in the gallery, using video, a diary and large format watercolour paintings. The double page taken out of her grandmother’s diary, together with the family narratives recorded on the video, illustrates not only the inner thoughts and personal memories but also various life experiences. The respective watercolour paintings are depicted as fragments of a conversation between Tolstoy and Makovický. The muted colours and subtle decor of Russian ornaments on the paintings reflect the bleak fate and origins of Matrena Makovická. Moreover, this colouring featuring shades of grey and blue represents a certain counterbalance to the tradition of full colours which can be observed in the paintings of the most famous Slovak landscape artist Ľudovít Fulla.

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Curator: Adéla Machová