THE TOP TEN
series of the 10 paintings, gouache on paper, each 8,5 x 12,5 cm / 3,34 x 4,92 in
Larry Gagosian & me, David Zwirner & me, Arne Glimcher & me, Iwan Wirt & me, Marian Goodman & me,
Matthew Marks & me, Dominique Levy, Robert Mnuchin & me, Paula Cooper & me, Barbara Gladstone & me, William Acquavella & me
THE TOP TEN
essay by Ivana Moncolova
photo editing, graphic design & layout: Jakub Hauskrecht
printed and bound: Róbert Jurových – NIKARA, Krupina
The Catalogue have been published with financial support of The Ministry of Culture of The Slovak Republic in 2014
Essay by Ivana Moncolova
Veronika Sramaty in her current painter´s series (project) THE TOP TEN focuses on portraiture and self-portraiture with ten great players of the art market according to the magazine Forbes1. The author in her thematic series of gouache paintings reacts to the media value of the information the magazine Forbes provided in March 2012 when they published the list of the ten best art dealers in the form of a picture report. Sramaty in her project THE TOP TEN semantically achieves a visual idiom – using her authorial intervention she created an unreal scenario in the real world, while at the same time the result is not an imagination or a virtual world of gamer´s type. In the series of gouache aintings however, she resigns from pathos of large formats of current art and adheres to the photographic size 3.34 x 4.92 in (8,5 x 12,5 cm). It is very refreshing that her photorealistic painting in the postmedia and postconceptual age once again introduces idea, sketch, counterfeit and manipulated photography to benefit humor. Through this it directly denies the widespread emptiness of meaning in art. At the same time she offers, using her own devices (both painterly and photographic) a dreamy, but also realistic, manipulated view of an artist from Europe, establishing herself in the fast changing rules of the American art market.
The key of the ten gouache paintings is that the faboulous amaranth persona of Veronika Sramaty plays friends with Paula Cooper, Barbara Gladstone, Marian Goodman, Dawid Zwirner, Larry Gagosian, Iwan Wirth, Arne Glimcher, Matthew Marks, Dominique Levy & Robert Mnuchin and William Acquavella in the center of jet-set parties, where she replaces the real friends and becomes their substitute using explicit irony. This implies artist’s nostalgy for possible meetings or even better for literally being-in-touch with THE TOP TEN. Artist Sramaty plays upon interpretations of that kind. This playful streak is an additional basic quality of her artwork. As Johan Huizinga wrote, play does not constitute actual life. It has time and space of its own that disable the rules of ordinary life2.
Veronika Sramaty presents herself in the gouache paintings as a friend of the individual people involved in beneficent brunches, exhibit openings, afterparties, and staged formal photographs of gallerists – simply in spaces where the art is not created but rather distributed. Since 2005 Veronika Sramaty uses exchange and barter as a way of collection building in the series of gauche paintings Barter Collection (barter of works among artists) and since 2010 in a series of gauche paintings Expanding Collection (barter between her and state and private collecting institutions). All ten gauche paintings will become part of the collections of the individual top ten art dealers including this catalogue, and this is to complete the entire idea of the project THE TOP TEN.
Despite the hyperbole which is part of THE TOP TEN idea, Sramaty delicately models the painterly form of the gouache paintings by layers. She does not omit any reflections and nuances of the photographic original. Therefore the resulting work is convincing and for a less subversive viewer could perhaps come across as neutral. In order to fulfill her authorial input, it is important for her to transform the concept into the language of the classical medium and obsessively execute the painting. The artistic approach of the author therefore does not begin and end with the idea. Her work with the classical painting, until now used mostly for joy, is for the author a great part of her authorial statement. Based on a photographic original she brings back the painterly technique on paper to the tense moment of the capturing of a banal fleeting moment. This strenghtens the realistic motive of the representation and the factuality of the theme. She has a sensitivity for her chosen medium which reveals a personal and emotional connection to this subject matter – expressing an emotive condition from the perspective of one who doesn´t belong to the world recorded and communicated in her current artwork.
Our comprehension of THE TOP TEN paintings, the way they seem still enthusiastic about appearances and the role that art plays in the building or shattering of expectations, leads us, almost inevitably, to certain biographical details. Veronika Sramaty was born in the former communist Czechoslovakia, now the Slovak republic and spent her early childhood during the perestroika era. The analogy of the idea of project THE TOP TEN is a search for identity, which could be seen in post-communist reconstrucion of Eastern Europe in every aspect. The newer generation of which Veronika Sramaty is part of, is not so deeply in self-reparation process, so the changing perspective of the artist in many ways makes the meaning more hyperbolic. By various means, Veronika Sramaty takes issue with the value of art, and takes into account the realm of everyday life, with all its specific demands and desires, but also debates the position of whatever a society considers a work of art.3 At the same time she values the art itself with its own benefits – personal verve, bright idea and of course the passion for painting.
1 / The idea came into life during the residency at the PROGR institute – Zentrum fur Kulturproduktion in Bern during the Export Residency Banska St anica in PROGR, Bern, Switzerland.
2 / Huizinga, Johan: Homo Ludens, Beacon Press, Boston, p. 6
3 / Sachsse, Rolf. In.: Lunghi E. and Col.: Re: Location 1 – 7 Shake (2nd volume), Casino Luxembourg, 2004, p. 111