Štefan Polák -- TERRA inCOGNITA

Upon his emergence in the Slovak art scene in the latter part of the 1970s, the painter Štefan Polák indicated the scope and direction of his work. He was particularly interested in man and his inner spiritual world as expressed in poetical imagination and fantastical realism, displaying the elements of Art Informel and lyrical abstraction. With the passage of time he remained faithful to these concerns. His expression assumed a distinctive form, blending poetical imagination and surrealistic vision with philosophical depth and meditation.

Polák's paintings reveal the captivating world of poetry and music, of fantasy and dreams connected to reality by fine threads of detail. It is the inner world of man which shows a capacity to perceive and experience, but also to meditate and dream. It is the world of man who opened the deepest recesses of the human mind, allowing us to examine his memories, experiences, dreams and visions. On the one hand he is a romantic wandering adventurer with the charm of a poet and the sophisticated taste of an expert. On the other hand, however, he is highly responsible and sincere in the relationships with his family, friends, birthplace, but above all with painting, the great passion of his life.

Born an intrinsic painter, Štefan Polák feels, thinks and expresses his art in pictures and colours, in their perpetual vibrant depth, or, by contrast, in rigid monochromy and rough textures or fine scumbling in which he finds a reliable shield penetrating the verbal barrier between art and life and filling the white spots on the map of ordinary people. His work oscillates between the imaginative and the real, between the abstract and the concrete. Although his stories are not expressed in continuous story lines, it is almost unbelievable that many of his abstract paintings - a mysterious space of structures and colours - interpret the meanings and messages with the same intensity as those depicting the real form or a concrete face.

Nevertheless, painting is not the only domain of ·tefan Polák. A venture into the third dimension, into the realm of sculptural materials and solid volumes reflects his current preoccupation. He was particularly enchanted by bronze - a material offering unique opportunities. Although the quality of this material encouraged him to abandon the world of lyrical abstraction and meditative indications towards more real forms and themes, the spiritual dimension of his work has remained unchanged. His bronze sculptures, ships, poets and clowns engaged in permanent meditative communication have become a parallel to his paintings.

Štefan Polák represents the generation of cultural "nomads" for whom the boundaries of time, territory and style are not an insurmountable barrier. Connecting the character of different periods, he easily finds his way in the maze of long forgotten dates and facts, transforming them into a distinct language through the prism of his own soul and heart. Once it is French culture and its great figures, at another time it is the bottom of the primeval sea with winged creatures, the recollection of landscape, the murmur of the sea, women's laughter or the taste of wine, and then a linear inspiration or simply the artist's or someone else's real-life experience. These impulses create the realms of Štefan Polák. They are the gist of his stories interpreted as drama, poetry or even as a touch of irony discernible in his paintings and sculptures. They provide space for meditation, enabling us to examine our own feelings and to recognise who we are. Genuine art has a powerful impact. To put it simply, we have to open up and enjoy it.

Mária Horváthová