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Jan Koniarek – Sculptor of Modernism

Representative selection of the sculptor Jan Koniarek´s works from the collections of the Jan Koniarek Gallery in Trnava.

Title of the exhibition: Jan Koniarek – Sculptor of Modernism
Venue: Žitnoostrovské Museum in Dunajská Streda
Curator: Filip Krutek
Opening of the exhibition: 20 February 2020 (Thurs) at 17.00
Duration: 21 February 2020 (Fri) – 28 March 2020 (Sat)


In the year 2020, the Jan Koniarek Gallery opens a group of three exhibitions presenting the works of a key figure of the Slovak modern sculpture Jan Koniarek outside the Trnava region. It is happening also due to reconstructing the New wing of Koppel Villa (since 16 October 2019) where was presented the permanent exhibition Sculptor Jan Koniarek and it shall be reinstalled again only since the year 2021. The group of three exhibitions includes one in Žitnoostrovské Museum in Dunajská Streda (20 February – 29 March 2020), the second one in the Vojtech Löffler Museum in Košice (2 April – 3 May 2020), and the third one in the Orava Gallery in Dolný Kubín (9 June – 30 August 2020).

The exhibition project is defined as a representative selection of works from the GJK collection fund and the focus is given to intimate plastic art (free plastic art, portraits, and reliefs). Unlike the monument works, it does not command excessive conservativism and it is a better evidence of Koniarek´s progressive art language based predominantly on Rodin inspiration, which was reflected mainly in typically thick layering the mass or sculpture surface modelling emphasizing the effect of light and shadow. Such post-Rodin modelling is represented by the works like Satyr (1925 – 1930), Drinking Man or Avalanche (1930). A different, less expressive intimate works are represented by free plastic art characteristic of social-historical symbols such as Ploughman (1936) and Judiciary (1920 – 1925). Portrait works are represented by the oldest dated bust Portrait of My Father (1905) or the symbolically and allegorically outlined portrait of John the Baptist (1906). No small part of the Koniarek´s works is made up by the monuments of various bias – from private orders, memorials of significant personalities, up to the war themes. At the exhibition, it is represented in two ways – an expressive sense of composition – Design of the Monument to the fallen in the WWI (1920 – 1930), and a pragmatic composing architecture – Design of the Statue of Jan Hollý (1928 – 1929). The exhibition is closed by the last dated work Sitting L. N. Tolstoj (1949).

Jan Koniarek was born in a family of the teacher František Koniarek and Mária, née Csaszna, in Voderady on 30 January 1878. In the years 1894 – 1897, he studied at the Art-Industrial School in Budapest; in 1897 – 1906, he attended the Academies of Fine Arts in Prague, in Budapest (Prof. Alojz Štróbl), and in Munich (Prof. W. von Rühmann); in the period of 1906 – 1914, he was staying in Serbia (Belgrade) working as a pedagogue and participant in artistic events. During the years 1912 – 1918, he volunteered in the Balkan War, a soldier in the WWI. In 1918, he returned to his sister in Voderady and in 1924, he moved to Trnava, the first studio in the area of the Sessler factory, later a house with the studio in Šaštinkova (today Trstinska) street. In 1937, he publishes the text Sculptor and Nation in the Slovenské pohľady (Slovak Views); within 1939 – 1943, he worked as a dean for modelling at the Artistic Department of the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava; in 1944, the first monograph by Karol Vaculík: Koniarek was published. He died on 4 May 1952 in Trnava and is buried in the new cemetery. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the author´s birth in 1978, the District Gallery in Trnava was renamed the Jan Koniarek Gallery in Trnava; in 2002, the Permanent Exhibition of sculpture works by Jan Koniarek in the new premises of Koppel Villa at the Jan Koniarek Gallery in Trnava was opened; in 2007 is published the monograph Sculptor Jan Koniarek and the new permanent exhibition “Jan Koniarek – the founder of modern Slovak sculpture” is opened in the new pavilion of the Koppel Villa at the GJK in Trnava.

Filip Krutek


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