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Inside the Surface

06. December 2022 - 29. January 2023 Curator: Jana Babušiaková

An interest in the language of geometry has long resonated in Ján Vasilko’s artistic program. He combines and recreates the reality surrounding modern people: machines, appliances, parts, architecture and design. The complex yet precisely marked mechanics of civilized life are reflected in a repetition of elements, the serial nature of the theme, and the purity and exactness of forms similar to technical drawings. He creates absurd dramas in which conflicting emotions, wit and criticism are mixed together.

The machine aesthetic baselines create a spawn of his tendency towards abstraction. The line as a primary painting means of expression is one of them. The long straight contours necessary for the creation of various industrial motifs must be drawn several times. Thus, a line briefly appears independently, liberated of purpose. Vasilko does not perceive it ephemerally as a recording of motion but as firm elements, a type of building blocks which he lays down and creates. As opposed to the mechanical transfer of a sketch to the canvas, when most of the creative activity takes place during the creation of the theme, the process of painting itself is emancipated.

Although he “only” works with straight lines, their length, color, direction and mutual contrast or pauses between them represent an autonomous recording of a frame of mind similar to the composing of music by intuition. He creates structures in a combination of horizontal and vertical lines which in certain places he marks out in a contrasting manner in a kind of industrial matrix, or he creates textures of stripes whose arrangement and relations generate an expression of painting. They are not attempts to transcribe or encode reality, or an alphabet, code or technical recording. He places emphasis on the act of creation which becomes a recording of the process, a unique combination of the free decision of a stroke and the status quo on the canvas. And this is decisive for the final outcome, it is not set out beforehand but emerges from it.


Ján Vasilko (1979, Humenné) studied at the Faculty of Arts in Košice from 1999 to 2005 in the Studio of Contemporary Painting under Prof. Rudolf Sikora. In 2005 he received the Oskár Čepan prize; in 2008 and 2012 he also went on to place second in the VÚB Painting of the Year competition and in 2009 he won the Strabag Artaward in Vienna. He has participated in exhibitions in England, Germany, Holland, France, Israel, Ukraine, Austria, Italy, Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary, and in the following galleries and institutions: Strabag Kunstforum Vienna, the National Gallery in the Veltržní Palác, the Topičův Salon and the City Library (all in Prague), the Richard Adam Gallery in Brno, the Slovak National Gallery, the Nedbalka Gallery and Kunsthalle (all in Bratislava) and the East Slovak Gallery in Košice, among others. His work can be found in many domestic and foreign collections, including those of the Strabag Kunstforum, the Slovak National Gallery, the East Slovak Gallery, Siemens ArtLab in Vienna, the Young Slovak Painting Foundation, the Robert Runták Collection, and the Richard Adam Collection. He has been living and painting in Bratislava since 2021.