Martek stays – Vlado Martek

Even though Vlado Martek (1951) has been present on the contemporary artistic scene for more than thirty years, there are still difficulties with the identification of his work and consequently, with filing his art in the corresponding critique folder. This only means that his art is unpredictable and changeable; these features connect his art to some of the general tendencies in art today, which is more or less all that can be said about Martek from the position of folder critique. Today, when it is very easy to classify artists, such a way of critical thinking is necessarily confusing because almost every artist demands his own folder. To be honest, it is also the only way to understand the real nature of art, which is basically relying on the individual and on the perfection of the artistic expression. For that reason, if we have to insist on classifying Martek’s work, the least we can do is open a new folder with his name on, and try to understand his art through what he actually does.

Martek is above all a poet; his poetry, usually published in the form of samizdat (self-published), is a nostalgic recall of an indefinite past. He is a romantic by nature but his poetry has full consciousness of the present and of the survival of the poet in this hostile world.

Rimbaud left

Martek stays

To demand poetry.

Verses from Martek’s last samizdat no. 6-1988.

He profoundly believes that ART HAS NO ALTERNATIVE, meaning that he sees art as a way of life. Martek is, at the same time, a poet, a painter, a publisher, a subversive urban activist, librarian in a public library. All things considered, Martek is constantly in the position of an outsider, which, as a matter of fact, gives him the opportunity for free creative action. We would not, therefore, be wrong if we took his paintings for an expression of free creative will and intellectual activity. These result in numerous visual metaphors created in a manner close to surrealist  automatism. In his attempts to pacify the obvious opposites between art and life, Martek almost unconsciously takes on a slight irony whose origins are to be found in the surrealist heritage. In that sense, his art seems a spiritual trouvaille created not only for personal pleasure but also in order to make reality and unreality one in work and action – in other words in changing life itself. Martek’s paintings and drawings are the achievement of this ideal; in the meantime Martek writes: Dear Aragon, greetings from socialism, Martek, 19th October 1982.
Stretched between his dreams and reality, Martek sees his art as private property in which he can do what he likes – even paint or draw. In that sense his art is a pure case matching life; the only problem is that we are not sure whether life is a case or a necessity.

I don’t think Martek owes anything to the conceptual heritage; however, it is not crucial to the understanding of his paintings similar to a child’s. Martek uses his ironic wit to analyze the world around him; art as a reflection of the collective experience is a good medium in which to publish the results that, for their nature, are not esthetical but ethical. This, actually Beuys’ principle, announces a utopia where art will establish its authenticity directly, using no media. Martek’s naïve expressivity suits this utopia almost ideally, and if we wish to truly evaluate his work, the esthetic measure is only part of a whole implied by Martek’s work.

Želimir Koščević


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