Studio Valčík: Time and Timelessness

I once wrote that Studio Valčík is first and foremost a family. By this, I didn’t mean that it is simply a father and his children for whom creating paintings, photographs, sculpture, arts and crafts, stationery and calendars has been the primary focus of and raison d’être for their lives over the past dozen years. We could certainly find many similar examples throughout history and it would make no sense for me to emphasize that fact on its own. But the fact that I have made this reference more than once is because what I had in mind was, that in this case the word “family” contains within it something that links the meanings of something timeless, natural or to be more precise blood and family ties with something institutional, historical: i.e. something fixed in time. Some might object that this is applicable to all families everywhere and is not restricted to artists – and they would certainly be correct from one point of view. But when I was referring to the institution of the family, I was not taking into consideration any legal standards, social norms or political representations of the family; rather I was referring to a simple truth that is typical for small families of artists. Studio Valčík is not only a family based on blood relations but it is also a family art school, workshop, guild and studio all rolled into one. My reason for discussing this is that I want to propose that a special type of time and timelessness exists at Studio Valčík precisely because of this multifaceted concept of family. When speaking about time, I would not like to be limited to stories about the times good, bad and horrible that we all experience and which have certainly be experienced by the individual members of Studio Valčík as well as by the Studio as such. Nor am I attempting to create a chronological overview of Studio Valčík from its establishment in 1993 through its most recent exhibitions in 2005 – the list would certainly be a long one and would without a doubt be quite interesting. I should also state that neither I am trying to reconstruct the “external” history of Studio Valčík, the changes in its makeup and location, the social and cultural events that have impacted the Studio or those that the Studio itself has created – though here again it would be possible to write quite extensively on this topic and it would perhaps be very interesting to morph into a general art historian and go through the archives. If nothing else, this would certainly confirm the fact that Studio Valčík is not something fictive or virtual but is a grouping that is an element of the Moravian, Czech and even Central European communities and is something that attracts attention, awakens interest, and provokes reactions both positive and negative, all of which is evidence of its remarkable nature. In the end, nor do I want with the use of the concept of time to provoke a discussion of the origins, affiliations or parallels, in short the internal historicity of the Studio’s creations, even if such an approach would show much of interest. It is most likely that it would show that in this era of reflections and intersections between the media and installations, Studio Valčík– in an approach that is “non-fashionable” and perceptibly “anti-professional” – focuses on classic genres of painting and sculpture that could be most widely seen at the turn of the last century. We would also learn that Studio Valčík focuses on objective painting and genres that at the present time are seen in “naïve” rather than “avant-garde” art. I have no intention of developing further this type of consideration, no matter how interesting it might be. Rather, I would like to use the concepts of time and timelessness to write something about each of the individual works and creative approaches used by Studio Valčík. For example, how Josef is an actor in time and history within this grouping – not because he founded the Studio but because he is first and foremost a being eternally dissatisfied and constantly searching. These characteristics and motivations need to be explored in greater detail, if for no other reason that senses of dissatisfaction and exploration are shared by the other members of the Studio. However, Josef Valčík is from the very beginning – and thus all the more markedly so – quite different from his children in that he externalizes his dissatisfaction and exploration, which manifest themselves in technical experimentation as well as crossing the boundaries between forms, moving from painting, drawing and photography to sculpture. In contrast, Aleš and Magda internalize their dissatisfaction and exploration, focusing on almost imperceptible but for them very significant changes in painting based in only one medium and almost exclusively in one genre. Time and timelessness in the works of the Studio’s individual artists also manifest themselves in accordance with which temporal and timeless genres the individual artists focus on. If Josef’s portraits, nudes, flowers, landscapes and abstract paintings struggle with the possibilities of reflecting change, the same can be said of Aleš’s seascapes and views of forests, bodies of waters and coastlines, but it is less true for Magda, who paints with the purposeful single-mindedness of a researcher into the still-life and landscapes lacking any evidence of human movement. Time and timelessness in the works of Josef, Magda and Aleš have yet another aspect, one that has a related and yet differentiating nature: the timelessness of painting methods, brushstrokes and techniques. Josef’s gestures of time and the passionate movement of the sculpture are focused on the timelessness of symbols, while the watercolors in the flowing paintings of Aleš reflect temporality, an ephemerality eternally repeating and timeless and Magda’s oil paintings – differently again – link the timelessness of geometry with small, quivering, temporary blotches. Time and timelessness can therefore be said to create a characteristic nexus of differences in Studio Valčik that would not be evident if Studio Valčik was not also a family. Without that fact, it would not be possible to understand the repeating seasonal struggle of Studio Valčík expressed through changes and repetition of the seasons in the medium of painting, for which movement and time are the critical points.


Professor Marian Zervan, Ph.D. (b. 1952) is a theoretician and esthetician in the fields of art and contemporary architecture. I is the author of books of sacred iconography and as a curator has organized exhibitions on Slovak architecture at home and abroad. He has also written the catalogs for these exhibitions. He is an assistant professor at both the Faculty of Architecture of the Slovak Technical University in Bratislava and the College of Fine Arts in Bratislava.