We share with you in our Art People feature Michal Stolarik an independent curator, art critic, and art writer. Born in 1988, lives and works in Bratislava, Slovakia. Since October 2019 he is a curator at the Ján Koniarek Gallery in Trnava, Slovakia. Between 2015 - 2016 he worked in Kunsthalle Bratislava and gallery work experiences gained in Zahorian & Van Espen Gallery (Bratislava, 2013 - 2015) and HIT Gallery (Bratislava, 2011 - 2013). For the years 2012 and 2013 he was a coordinator of the Oskár Čepan Award at Foundation - Center for Contemporary Arts in Bratislava. He is also a freelance graphic designer, Hochspannung! party promoter and occasional DJ.
Who is Michal Stolárik?
Michal Stolárik is an independent curator, art critic, and art writer.
Born in 1988, Michal lives and works in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Since October 2019 he is a curator for the Ján Koniarek Gallery in Trnava, Slovakia.
Between 2015 - 2016 he worked in Kunsthalle Bratislava and gallery further work experiences gained in Zahorian & Van Espen Gallery (Bratislava, 2013 - 2015) and HIT Gallery (Bratislava, 2011 - 2013).
For the years 2012 and 2013 Michal was a coordinator of the Oskár Čepan Award at the Foundation - Center for Contemporary Arts in Bratislava.
He is also a freelance graphic designer, Hochspannung!, party promoter and occasional DJ.
How did you become interested in art?
I can't say what was the starting point for me, as I don't have an artistic background in my family.
However, as a kid, I was attracted to unusual music videos (e.g. The Prodigy's Breathe, Daft Punk's Around the World or Loosing my religion by R.E.M) and the visuals side of the pop culture.
Through the music, I became interested in graphic design which gave me even more visual stimuli.
These initial encounters have later evolved into an awareness of art in general.
What I know for sure, that every time I was on a vacation or trip, one of the main activities was visiting the local art galleries.
Later on, when I was deciding which university to apply to, studying History of Fine Arts at the Comenius University in Bratislava seemed like a fun thing to do.
Could you tell us a bit about how you became involved in curating?
Being interested in contemporary art and curating was the result of natural evolution, self-education, and personal interest as these topics weren't a part of my university studies.
As much as I love arts in general, working with old art and no longer living artists wasn't something I would like to do.
I'm sure it was the affection for Viennese Actionism that inspired me to write the bachelor thesis on the topic of Slovak Action Arts after 1989.
This, quite an unusual topic in the context of the regressive direction of the university's department, showed me that contemporary art might be my main interest.
The first curatorial opportunities happened circa 10 years ago when artists started to ask me to curate their solo shows.
Honestly, at that time I wasn't 100% sure what my role as a curator should be as no one has ever taught me that, but here I am. :)
Where do you find artists? What role does social media have in this process?
I won't say anything new, but for me, it's always been about visiting exhibitions, artist studios, reading magazines end checking out the online sources documenting the exhibitions all around the world.
As some artists tend to share what they are currently working on, seeing it on Instagram might give you glimpses of what is going on, which can eventually speed up the whole process of the first contact.
However, Instagram posts & DMs never beat eye-to-eye contact with an artwork or chit-chat/deep conversations with artists in their studios.
Do the artists you select have something in common?
I'm not sure if the artists have something in common, but quite often I'm attracted to the artworks which are dealing with the nature of reality/fiction and the viewer's perception of what's depicted.
All those small circuits in reality which change the way you are looking at it could be intriguing.
It also fascinates me to see how intimate stories are camouflaged by a universal language of contemporary art and general topics come across as surprisingly personal.
What personality trait do you have that has helped you grow?
Stubbornness & open-mindedness.
Can I even put these two in the same context?
What one important piece of advice would you give an artist at the beginning of his career?
Be professional, have fun, and don’t believe the hype.
What role does digitalization play for you, now and in the future?
Digitalization is a natural part of our day-to-day lives.
It helps us with many things - we can travel without moving, it accelerates whatever we do and everything is accessible with a single display tap. This doesn't exclude the art world. However, online art fairs and online exhibitions would never replace the feeling of visiting them in person.
What are your three favorite digital tools, can you say why?
iPhone's Spirit level app saved me a few times, SketchUp helps me with the exhibition's layouts and Google Drive with its apps makes my life way easier.
Michal Stolárik is an independent curator, art critic, and art writer. Born in 1988, lives and works in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Since October 2019 he is a contemporary art curator in Ján Koniarek Gallery in Trnava, Slovakia.
Upcoming or current exhibitions:
Until the 2nd of May, there are two solo shows on view in Ján Koniarek Gallery in Trnava which I curated presenting the newest artworks by Adam Šakový and Margaréta Petražalová.
In the following months, I'm looking forward to work on some solo shows of artists like Kristián Németh (May, Fait Gallery, Brno) Pavla Malinová (October, White & Weiss Gallery, Bratislava), Adam Šakový (December, At Home Gallery, Šamorín) and several curatorial projects such as Talking Hands (July, Ján Koniarek Gallery in Trnava) – exhibition focusing on hand motifs and narrative potential of gestures in contemporary art complemented and confronted with the selection of in-house old and modern art collections.
There will be also the third and probably the final installment of Anything Goes (July, White & Weiss Gallery, Bratislava) exhibition series which examine the current trends in contemporary art and bridge the art scenes of the surrounding countries (Czech Republic, Austria, and Hungary).
Thanks to a kind invitation from Lukas Thaler and Titania Seidl, I am also really excited to curate a show for Mauve Vienna this Autumn.
#contemporary culture, #freelance curator
For more on Michal Stolàrik:
Instagram: Michal Stolárik.
Website: Michal Stolárik.
Galleries in the article on Instagram:
A big thank you to Michal for sharing his story and his exhibitions, the galleries and the artists with us.