Marcel Mališ - Lebensraum
The exhibition by Slovak artist Marcel Mališ is based on a series of paintings in which the artist critically yet with a dose of irony reflects on the present day society. The works depict human heads wrapped in the unbreathable atmosphere of plastic bags imprinted with logos of various companies. The disturbing images refer to violence and the restriction of freedom, but also to the overwhelming mass production of commodities and waste in the consumerist society.
The paintings show logos of supermarket chains or the Economist magazine, but the individual brands are more like placeholders. The series questions the illusion of freedom under the conditions of the consumerist capitalist society that emphasizes the freedom of individual choice while in reality denying uniqueness of each individual and reducing people to consumers manipulated by advertising. The seemingly free choice is in fact just a selection between the same products by different brands with no real alternatives.
A series of photorealistic paintings comments on the domination of corporations and their practices leading to environmental devastation. "The works are a reflection of a society dominated by the psychotic consumption of a disoriented mass of consumers (of goods, information, entertainment) seduced by an "endless" supply of goods until the consumers themselves become products in a pre-mortal phase of existence. There is so much of everything that one cannot breathe..."
In addition to works that critique consumerism there is also a political reference. One of the bags is inscribed in Russian and covered with a motif of a Matryoshka. In the context of Russia's war against Ukraine, this work is a clear condemnation of Russian aggression. The images of heads wrapped in bags were originally derived from photographs of hooded prisoners tortured in the American prison of Guantanamo during the war in Iraq.
The exhibition is based on a larger series entitled Lebensraum, which the artist has been working on for over fifteen years. The title of the exhibition refers to the history and crimes of fascism. The historical bridging to the present is a warning against dehumanizing of people and the restriction of their freedom.
About the artist:
Marcel Mališ is a Slovak artist living and working in Bratislava. He works with a wide range of media, creating photorealistic images as well as abstraction or referencing socialist realism. He also creates objects and installations. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava (studio of Prof. Daniel Fischer). In 2013 he received the ESSL Art Award CEE. His works are represented in the collections of the Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava City Gallery, Meulensteen Art Collection in the Netherlands and others. https://www.marcelmalis.com/
Curators: Lenka Kukurová, Zuzana Štefková
The reproduction of the Economist is published with the permission of the Bratislava City Gallery, which owns the painting.
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, the City of Prague and the Municipal District of Prague 7. Media partners of the project are Artmap, Radio 1, GoOut. The co-organiser of the opening is the Foundation and Centre for Contemporary Art.
Photo of the exhibition at Artwall: Martin Micka, Lujza Stopková