Born in Prague in 1936, the artist Mariá Bartuszová studied Art, Architecture and Design there in the 1950s. She died in 1996 at the early age of 60 in Kosice, Slovakia, where she had spent most of her life. It was not until after her death that her sculptures – exhibited at Documenta 12 in 2007 – drew international attention. In the following year the Rüdiger Schöttle Gallery mounted the first individual exhibition of her works outside her native Slovakia. The exhibition was curated by Vladimír Beskid and accompanied by a catalogue. Some of Mariá Bartuszová's works were shown in New York and in the exhibition "Les promesses du passé" at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, in 2010.
For this year's exhibition at our gallery we have again put together a selection of works that continues the overview of the broad spectrum of Mariá Bartuszová's oeuvre. A characteristic feature of the artist's work is her non-figural, organic and sensuous language of form, which she expresses through such natural shapes as raindrops, seeds or nest clusters or through natural processes resulting from the influence of gravity or from decomposition and evaporation in the course of time. Her preferred artistic media are plaster of Paris and bronze, often combined with such natural materials as wood or stones.
During her most active creative phase – the period between the 1960s and the 1980s – Mariá Bartuszová used a special process, a kind of "pneumatic" shaping process: plaster castings made from hollow, balloon-like rubber moulds which, when filled with water, neutralize the force of gravity, asserting their own space and presence before the plaster sets momentarily into a transient, fragile form. It is in these ovoid, vulnerable forms, their smooth, eggshell-like perfection often being deliberately "deharmonized" by the artist – fractured, deformed, bandaged or strangulated – that Mariá Bartuszová so succinctly expresses the idea of endless renewal.
A further highlight of the exhibition are the tactile sculptures originally developed for children with impaired vision (symposia in Levoca in 1976 and 1983). Complementing the haptic aesthetic of her multi-part metal sculptures is the "feel appeal" of her plaster of Paris magnifications of tiny products of nature, such as wheat grains, dewdrops and eggs.
"I think that shapes on their own have a strong psychological expression through which they operate – for example: rectangular, sharp, inorganic shapes – coldness; round, organic shapes – warmth; round, touching shapes can convey the feeling of a tender touch, of a hug – and maybe also erotic feelings."
(Mariá Bartuszová, 1983)