TEMPTATION, presented by Pierre Restany, the leading figure of the most progressive avant-garde wave in Europe at the time, was my second exhibition in Paris (1967). These were the days of unspoken competition between New Realism and Pop Art. The 1960s witnessed a boom of social transformations – especially in the arts. It was the time of the Beatles and the “YEAH YEAH” music, but also completely different dimensions of music, literature, theater and film creation. Understandably, this movement also had an impact on the entire complex of fine art work.
After the “founding” artists of New Realism (1960), I was part of the following which strove to go beyond traditional “gallery practice” and take it “to the streets.” More precisely, to invite anonymous individuals to participate or even co-create artwork. This was a fundamental breakthrough in the thinking of TEMPTATION was an event of that type. 40 white shop window mannequins with makeup and wigs were arranged throughout the gallery. Visitors were asked to write or leave a trace of their own, written or drawn message, similar to what was happening in public spaces, in parks or other, even more memorable places. Miloš Urbásek, my friend and colleague, who unfortunately passed away today, also participated in this event as my guest. He created a frieze of images with a Lettrist analysis of the slogan “OK BOY”.
After some years, I again presented TEMPTATION at my retrospective exhibition in 2014 at the Bratislava City Gallery, and then at EXPO 2015 in Milan, thanks to the creators of the Slovak Pavilion, architects Karol Kállay Jr. and Tomáš Berka. According to the attendance records, 2,300,000 visitors saw it, including Peter Sagan, the world cycling champion, who also left his “traces.”
Vincent Polakovič, the director of the DANUBIANA Muelensteen Art Museum, decided that DANUBIANA would take over the rerun of the exhibition TEMPTATION from the Lara Vincy Gallery in Paris. This happened in March 2017, fifty years after its first presentation.
I invited my colleague Richard Köhler, an excellent photographer to participate. Thanks to his professionalism and deep perception of the feelings and thinking of the environment, he captured a parallel and rich documentation of the detailed graffiti, which provides an inside view of the texts on the mannequins. It gave rise to a kind of chronicle of “secrets” revealed by Köhler who analyzed thousands of graffiti which had been concealed by time.
I was thrilled by this idea and I wish my friend much strength on his journey to the peaks of Slovak art culture.
Alex Mlynárčik (1934) lives in Žilina and Paris. He is one of the few Slovak artists who have become part of European art history. The turning point for him artistically and personally came when he met Pierre Restany, the French art critic who defined the theory of New Realism and founded the art group of the same name. Mlynárčik eventually became the protagonist of the Slovak line of New Realism. In 1951 (when he was 16 years old), he was arrested in Austria for illegally leaving Czechoslovakia; he was then sentenced and imprisoned. After his release from prison, he worked as house painter, designer and photographer. From 1959 to 1965 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava (under prof. Milly and prof. Matejka) and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (under prof. Sychra).