Exhibition of Ľudovít Fulla – Fragments

The exhibition Ľudovít Fulla – FRAGMENTS examines different periods of artist´s oeuvre through the works from the collections of the Nedbalka Gallery

The exhibition and the accompanying publication are divided into five parts/fragments: 1. Portraits and nudes, 2. Painting, 3. Drawing and illustration, 4. Graphic art, 5. Designs for architecture. Interpreting the works of art and individual “fragments”, the curator Katarína Bajcurová, author of the last monograph on Ľudovít Fulla (Bratislava: Slovart a Petrus, 2009), presents the public with new information that has come to light over the last ten years. The publication (exhibition catalogue) containing commentaries on particular works has been composed like a “handbook” for art collectors. Both the exhibition and the book are intended for all those who want to feast their eyes on Fulla´s masterpieces and learn more about his “minor works”, side-steps or “refrains” accompanying the “theme song” of his body of work.

This year we commemorate the 120th anniversary of the birth of Ľudovít Fulla (* 27 February 1902, Ružomberok – † 21 April 1980, Bratislava), the artist who ranks among leading figures of twentieth-century Slovak art. Fulla´s artistic talent was both spontaneous and synthetic. From the very beginning of his career as an artist, he tried to raise and meaningfully answer the question of whether it is possible to be European and Slovak artist at the same time. He found the solution to the contradiction between the traditional and the modern in the synthesis. His unique brushwork was inspired by the current art movements, children´s artwork, icon-painting, medieval painting and Slovak folk art. As the Czech writer, Milan Kundera put it, this heritage was overlaid with modern experiments in the manner of “Janáčekesque or Bartókesque synthesis”. The result was an original visual language, which was characterised by the combination of a rational, constructivist composition of forms and intense, expressive colours. Fulla became perhaps the most original Slovak artist of the 20th century. Due to his sense of the synthesis of various and often opposing elements he can be referred to as the “archaist and innovator” (Jurij Tyňanov). Fulla attained a goal that no other artist in Slovakia had yet reached: he was the first to paint an abstract picture. Though he would never abandon the horizon of the “physical mode”, he programmatically applied the postulates of non-objectivity in the area of applied graphic art and stage design. From the doctrine of “absolute painting” (which, in the language of that era, referred to non-representational, abstract art), which he had partially tried to reach during the first pinnacle of his work in the 1930s, he turned to a more traditional subject of the twentieth-century Slovak painting, which was the search for and depiction of the Slovak national myth. His projects encompassed painting, graphic art, drawing, stage design and book illustration; some of his works were also executed as tapestries.  Fulla donated his works to the state; today they can be seen in the Gallery of Ľudovít Fulla in Ružomberok (opened to the public in 1969; as the gallery building is the state of disrepair, the exhibition has been taken down in the beginning of 2022), a branch of the Slovak National Gallery. The book examines a considerable fragment of the artist´s body of work from the Nedbalka Gallery´s collection.

Ľudovít Fulla (1902 – 1980) is among the most significant figures of 20th century Slovak fine art. Fulla studied at the private school of Gustáv Mallý in Bratislava (1921 – 1922) and the School of Applied Arts in Prague (1922 – 1927, Prof. Arnošt Hofbauer, František Kysela). In the period of 1929 – 1939, he worked as a teacher at the School of Arts and Crafts in Bratislava, which was inspired by the German Bauhaus. In this period he also established his fruitful cooperation with Mikuláš Galanda. Together they formulated and, at their own expense, published, the first and the only manifesto of modern Slovak painting Súkromné listy Fullu a Galandu (The Private Letters of Fulla and Galanda, 1930 – 1932). Starting from the 1930s, he represented Slovak art in all major exhibitions of Czechoslovak art abroad. His painting Song and Labour was awarded Grand Prix at the 1937 Paris International Exposition of Art and Technology in Modern Life. In 1942, he was forced to retire, since 1943 lived in Martin. Between 1949 and 1952, he headed the Department of monumental and decorative painting at the newly established Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. After he was forced to leave the Academy for political reasons, he withdrew from the public eye and focused on illustration, in particular the illustrations for Slovak Tales collected by Pavol Dobšinský.

In the period of 1956 – 1962, the artist lived in Žilina, where he established a private gallery; this period also saw a gradual rehabilitation of his work. Fulla´s work was also awarded at EXPO ’58 in Brussels. Since 1962, he lived and worked in Ružomberok. In 1966 and 1977, Fulla donated major part of his works to the state in return for building the Gallery of Ľudovít Fulla in Ružomberok (today a branch of the Slovak National Gallery), which was opened to the public in 1969. His projects encompassed painting, graphic art, drawing, stage design and book illustration; some of his works were also executed as tapestries.

Architecture: Jakub Tóth

Fulla for children: Ondřej Horák

Supported using public funding by Slovak Arts Council.