Make it Nonchalant
The surprisingly consistent work of Margaréta Petržalová attracts attention with organically wild paintings depicting banal moments and unadorned bouts of reality, flirting with cheap beauty and conscious thinking about gossip. When I say surprisingly, I respond to Petržalová’s early artistic maturity and coherent program, which blossomed and provoked interest during her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava and remains consistent even after her graduation. The author primarily develops the natural character of her original painting gesture in figural compositions that are washed out into almost vague and abstract forms, stimulating a dreamy atmosphere that combines real memories with fantasy. Her painting world is the result of a natural combination of visual exoticism, unfettered expression, historical symbolism and personal mythology in contrast with the reality or stories from her surroundings. Petržalová’s work is borderline kitschy, imitating expensive materials, reflecting on beauty, engaged with decorations and showing the author’s fascination with ornaments. The result is an unexpected alternative to commercial aesthetics, creating a gloomy mood without any significant visual references to the present. This unique atmosphere arises from the illogical use of intense colors that do not reflect reality but help to psychologize the depicted characters (often shapeless and clumsy), born from textures, dynamic painting gestures, diluted, blurred colors and absent details.
Petržalová based the concept of her solo exhibition Make it Nonchalant on the works she created primarily during the past year, which was very challenging, complicated, and limiting for most of us. Maybe that’s why she focused on topics such as imagination, the development of personal fantasy, escape from reality, play with one’s own identity or imitation (of objects, materials, social status, etc.). In addition to expressive acrylic paintings and drawings, the selection of works in the exhibition environment is complemented by a spatial installation including objects or recycled furniture, which are gradually finding their place in the author’s artistic program.
To communicate the main theme of the project, Petržalová uses the appropriated subject matter of a peacock, which she perceives as a symbol of beauty, grandeur or immortality. Together with female heroines (usually in the form of an allegorical self-portrait), she places the peacock in the center of the paintings, or lets it merge with other ornaments. The appeal of peacock feathers often symbolizes wealth, which, however, is also closely linked to trumperies and pretentious luxury. The author follows the line between prosperity and poverty through a collection of vintage furniture, which she refreshes with faux (painted) inlays. Decorativeness has a special place in Petržalová’s work – she is sincerely fascinated by the strong aesthetics of the Orient, naturally tends to theatricality and theatrical work on the one hand, while being attracted to nonchalant DIY character and sincerely entertained with the imitation of wealth by cheap materials that look as an unaffordable luxury under the right lights on the other hand. Her jolly way of seeing the world is also reflected on the canvases featuring theatrical elements (the figure of a wigmaker, motifs of a shadow play, mask, etc.), imaginary bohemianism (baths, porcelain peacock bowls) and entertainment (peacock taming, flying a Chinese kite). Margaréta Petržalová’s work is naturally effortless, but the way she communicates stories from her inner world and her immediate surroundings is piercing.
In 2019, Margaréta Petržalová (*1993, Trnava) completed her studies in the 4th studio of Ivan Csudai at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. She has had solo exhibitions in galleries in Bratislava, including ATELIER XIII (2020), Temporary Parapet (2018), Flat Gallery (2018), and participated in group projects in Schemnitz Gallery (Banská Štiavnica), DOT. Gallery of Contemporary Art (Bratislava) or Gloria’s Gallery (New York). In 2019, she was a finalist in the VÚB Foundation Prize for Painting award. Margaréta Petržalová lives and works in Trnava.