Works from the Depository: I Is Someone Else

The self-portrait is a fascinating genre in its own right. The artists use it to create a picture of and about themselves.

Besides their physical appearance they also show us what they consider important or typical, whether it is the specific environment, clothes, attributes of artist profession, such as brushes or a palette, posture, look in the eyes, or the technique. From the period of Renaissance, the self-portrait has been infiltrated by self-confidence, stage-management and symbols. Apart from the changing position of the artist in society, the origin of this genre is linked with the availability of optic tools. However, in the twentieth century the realistic depiction gives way to other qualities and experiments. The self-portrait not only covers the need for identification and representation but, because of life experiences, also illustrates the forms of estrangement in the manner of Rudolf Fabry´s poem “Ja je niekto iný” (I Is Someone Else).

Some artists use a self-portrait to examine their mental states, possibilities and conventions of figural painting; it becomes their iconic genre (from Rembrandt, through Frida, up to Maria Lassnig), while others depict their own face, which they know the best. Naturally, the self-portrait may transcend the boundaries of figural representation. The Nedbalka Gallery´s collection contains many remarkable self-portraits and works with self-portrait qualities. The present selection is multigenerational and shows the artists in different stages of life, in conventional compositions as well as in boundary situations. In Peter Július Kern´s study for his self-portrait as a mature painter one can see the paintings, Július Jakoby symbolically portrayed himself in work-clothes on the day of his 78th birthday. The early self-portrait of Milan Laluha shows the artist stylised as an ordinary villager wearing a fur cap. On the contrary, Stano Filko´s work is a self-confident self-portrait integrating the frame. Endre Nemes´ surrealistic approach to the subject is characterised by fragmentary nature and the aesthetic of alienated – puppet and yet painfully physical – corporeality marked by the horrors of war. The hyperbolised corporeality is also present in Lucia Dovičáková´s works characterised by self-portrait qualities. Since 2012, the artist focuses on a realistic depiction of her pregnancy and maternity.

The artists on display: Lucia Dovičáková, Stano Filko, Július Jakoby, Peter Július Kern, Milan Laluha, Endre Nemes