Hommage à Albín Brunovský

Opening-pictures (3.12.2007)

      Albín Brunovský, a magnificent persona of Slovak art, managed to sublate the impulses of the past and work his way close to Dürer, Leonardo, Goltzius, Goya, Picasso or Arcimbold. His graphic cycles include Bella Italia, Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart or Lady with a Hat, and dozens of other free graphic plates such as The Drunken Boat inspired by Rimbaud, interpretations of Ovid’s The Story of Orpheus or the The Art of Love. He became a great and unique poet of human dreams even if exposure to mistakes in his remarkable oeuvre became ever greater, the higher he set his aims.

      We were not the only ones impressed by the sum of his knowledge, the whole world was. His live appearances in the foreign media and their contents are themselves a credible testimony to this fact. With superhuman efforts he gave shape to the creative impulses of the intricate world structures and his own inner philosophy in the quest for balance between the opposites. He graphically elevated Erasmus’ The Praise of Folly and came up with his original formulation of the concept of Continual and Persistent Trying for Ownership only to masterfully let his complicated simplicity culminate in In Praise of Troubled Dreams.

      He excelled in the intaglio printing techniques, above all in etching, but his drawings on the lithographic stone, Known and Unknown Ladies or French Conversation, or stone engravings belong to the treasury of Slovak art.

      Not every artist in Slovakia and, modesty aside, also in Europe managed in the field of graphics, painting and illustration to leave such an extensive and exceptional work as Albín Brunovský. He had an immense talent, and even grander heart. What muses endowed him with he passed on to others during his long-time stint at the Department of Book Printing and Illustration at the Academy of Fine Arts. His mastery influenced a wide range of his generation contemporaries and students. Not only by the actual graphic style of fantastic realism and the technical perfection of graphic pieces, but also by the philosophy of creation deeply wedded with literature. It is no coincidence that most of Brunovský’s graduates also had their say in the field of book illustration, ex libris, and owing to the perfection of drawing also in the stamp printing.

      Brunovský, as an exceptionally talented and humanly humble artistic personality of both Slovak and world stature, had the privilege and opportunity to be an active witness to the birth of a new “avant-garde” art style. He was involved in the formation of the poetical Trnava group, and especially Ján Stacho and Ľubomír Feldek turned out to be his life-long artistic companions. In unison they went on to spin the story of a new artistic movement - Sensualism. His followers persevere in developing their master’s legacy and without Albín, they are extraordinary, if sometimes somewhat lonely runners. These artists, followers and rather lonely figures, pay together with the creators of this album their homage to the genius of Slovak graphic culture, the legendary professor Albín Brunovský, at the occasion of the 10th anniversary of his untimely departure from this world.

      His grave stands there bashfully like the others, neither priding itself in the exotic marble, nor being adorned by a sizeable sculpture or above life-size bust. Ivy and grass grow over the unpretentious gravestone with his name in the shadow of rustling pine trees of Záhorie, which so irreplaceably belong to the essential attributes of Brunovský’s creation. Surpassing the horizon of Slovakia with his life and artistic perfection he managed to intrigue the world and that is perhaps why he rests in the gentle embrace of the nature.

Ivan Panenka

Erik Ondrejička (translation: John Minahane):
Before the storm near Búry

for Albín Brunovský

The sky that a while ago was almost solitary
is hurrying to load all her artillery
she mixes on the palette a grey so full of steel
that the trees under its burden tipsily reel

But still no brush in the sky has opened the salute
of thunderous cannonade to a painter’s repute
only a distant lark winging where the winds lead him
and singing over and over the single word freedom

And somewhat mournfully
somewhat drowsy and slow
acacia blooms in the garden lushly shower snow

The pines along the way from foot to sidefoot shift
may they sustain their standing to beg the sky for a gift
cannot her blinded grey be bright at least as long
as the lark sings somewhat sadly his singleworded song

No one will answer him or whisper even or show him
what colours will she blend into her latest poem
is she not somewhat old as all those years grow fainter
still like a little girl every day to play painter

But then someone smacks a brush on the cloud’s black heart
with radiant bright yellow
now then let it start



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