Although Imrich Vanek (1931 – 2015) is generally unrecognised author from second half of 20th century, his monumental “ceramic walls” can be found in public spaces in plenty of Slovak towns. Vanek´s domain was ceramics, which he considered to be a raw sculptural medium and he continually attempted to achieve its emancipation. However, he spent his whole life overlooked, categorised as “just a ceramicist”. (Most likely, that is a reason, why he is not even mentioned in the relatively new historiographical publication Slovenské sochárstvo 1945 – 2015: Socha a objekt (Slovak Sculpture: Sculpture and Object) by Katarína Bajcurová.)
The exhibition, the first after the author´s death, seems to be next initiatory step in the wider “convolute” of activities organized by Svätopluk Mikyta and Zuzana Bodnárová from the cultural platform Banská Stanica. Their activities are based on their friendly relationship with the author in the last decade of his life, on mutual respect, on familiarisation with the extensive art potential, which, unfortunately, has never been fulfilled in relation to social and political transformation.
Phenomenon of success and artistic and social withdrawal after 1989 is for the project authors in strong contrast to an absolute readiness of Vanek to create and his, in Slovak context very rare, approach to ceramics.
The exhibition doesn´t show complexity of Vanek´s works, it is an extract, an insight into the unprocessed author´s inheritance. The works, literally pulled out from his studio, should serve as a bait for lay viewers, as a suggestion for professional public, to see in Vanek a significant author with symptomatic career.
The exhibition explores the status of the author, whose works are a frequent feature of public spaces on one hand, whilst the author himself remains almost completely forgotten on the other. Another exhibition´s motif is the dependency of social status of an artist upon the social demand, which led Vanek from success and luxury to social breakdown.
In relation to this, it should be noted, that there is strong lack of interest in governmental protection of artworks and buildings from the socialist period, manifesting in the current sorrowful state and destruction of many artworks from this period.
Besides Imrich Vanek, there are more artists involved, one of them is Hynek Alt, who took photographs of the author´s mansion with his studio in Bratislava, a mere two weeks after his death, and Illah van Oijen, who travelled through Slovakia in 2017 and documented the state and situation of Vanek´s monumental works in public spaces. The research part of the project is carried out by art historians Šárka Svobodová and Ľuba Belohradská. The project authors together with inheritors in cooperation with architects Vít Halada and Benjamín Bradňanský plan in Vanek´s mansion to establish a museum and an international residential centre of ceramics. The goal is to achieve Imrich Vanek´s vision of opening a representational mansion for public use and to use its material and technological foundation to inspire creativity.