Matej Gavula

Zooming | 2015 | Video, loop | Courtesy of the artist
Upcoming Forms | 2019 | Sculpture object, ceramics, casting | Courtesy of the artist

These two selected works by Matej Gavula are contemplations about the place of the human in society, about the intentions and meaning of human actions. The pillar Upcoming Forms (2019) came about as a result of the artist’s long term interest in the conceptual potential of degrading glass-ceramic mosaics on the facades of public buildings. In this case, he focused on the current state of the finish on the pavilion of the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Comenius University by architect Vladimír Dedeček. “The artist invokes the concept of abrasion, which bridges the slow, passive transformation of architecture resulting from deterioration, and the faster actions of carving and grinding, reducing something to a meaningful essence as integral to the creative work of the sculptor. This is most visible in the case of the mosaics, conveyors of the decaying beauty of their place of origin, a masterpiece of Slovak modernist architecture.” (Judit Angel)


The sculptural object comprises plaster casts of the building’s finish that unify the “skin” of the original model. It thus transforms it into a structure with the possibility of growth, a structure that has outlasted the decline of its past form. The pillar is conceived performatively, as the artist also indicates the relationship of the object to space and its possible constellations. At its first presentation at a solo exhibition at Bratislava Transit, live performances also took place. Additionally, Gavula sees this new metamorphosis as a code score for sound interpretation, as it resembles an abstract-coded data matrix in an analogue computer system.


The complementary video Zooming (2015) is a “labor of Sisyphus” that, in a minimalist loop of an aimless repetitive extension and subsequent retraction of a lens of a compact automatic camera, seems to question the presence of any constructive activity. However, after closer observation, we notice that this seemingly nonsensical act has a rhythm similar to breathing, which brings us closer to the artist’s focus on fully experiencing the moments of lived presence. Gavula claims that the title also refers to a slang term denoting a mental state, when a person is long-term intoxicated by drugs and becomes detached from reality. It is in the sequence of inhale – exhale in which a lost person can return to oneself as an important building block and a node of the network of the society of which one is a part.