Between 1999-2001 Viktor Frešo studied at the Studio of Sculpture in the class of Jozef Jankovič and Ján Hoffstädter at the University of Fine Arts in Bratislava. Later (between 2001-2005), he transferred to the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, where he first studied painting in the class of Vladimír Skrepl and subsequently new media in the class of Michael Bielicky.

He re-evaluated his view of the contemporary fine arts scene already when he started studying classical sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava, which led to his abandoning the use of traditional materials and media. At the same time he started working primarily with self-portraits, for which he used various media and the outcome of his exploring was his thesis project entitled Who Is the King? In this photographic series he lets himself be photographed by famous personalities such as Václav and Dagmar Havel, Iva Janžurova, Karel Gott or Milan Knížák, as a prototype of a young successful person, the symbol of whom is a formal suit. It’s about some sort of “parasitisation” on the media fame of the above personalities, which, in addition to questions about authorship, media image and the curator extent of the whole, is the basic concept of this project. He develops other possibilities of self-portrait also on a text level – most often signs on the walls of galleries. At his exhibition in Košice in 2007 he made three signs in the gallery – Rád maľujem, Rád sprejujem, Rád oblepujem (I like painting, I like spraying, I like taping) – always carried out in the given media, which are the simplest records of his relationship to the mentioned creative activities. The series of signs Bol som tu (I was here) (2006-2007) was originally preceded by the artist’s reflection about the specifics of East European way of thinking, where he reached the conclusion that that particularity is the desire to reach the greatest effect, while exerting the least amount of effort possible.

Based on this conclusion, he did several exhibitions – for example in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary or Serbia, using this code name always in the local language. His probably most courageous, most internal and most intimate self-portrait is his cycle of texts in the form of tables (What Helped Me When, 2005), where the artist reveals his most personal problems and simultaneously uncovers his therapies, which he applies in solving them. His intention is not only for the viewer to have a visual experience, but also to have a possibility to identify with the artist’s problems and use his specific advice. The peak of this gradual etherealizing of his self-portraits are his small interventions into gallery space, which have the image, for example, of just one sprayed line (Do Not Write Anything About Me, You Motherfucker, 2007).

Through these small, but also larger interventions into gallery space, he creates a clear and direct attack at the viewer, which is very precisely aimed – whether it is the bar in the door that prevents passing through (Aren’t You Possibly Too Old, 2007), or his minimalistic performances (Reaction. The Finalist of the Oskár Čepan Award, 2009). Other significant areas of this artist’s work include conceptual sculpture, installations, working with picture, but also classical painting and performances.

Jakub Král (via Artlist)

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