The sculptures of Ľubomír Purdeš (born 1965 in Prešov) have been attracting an attention to those, who are interested in the contemporary art in Slovakia for more than ten years. Not only his rich active participation in the collective exhibitions in his native country and abroad but also his works made during the sculptural symposiums (Zittau - Germany / 1991; Labin – Croatia / 1993; Fintice near Prešov – Slovakia / 1994; Moravany nad Váhom – Slovakia / 1995; Mayen – Germany / 1997; Nový Smokovec – Slovakia / 2002; Martin – Slovakia / 2003; Třinec – Czech Republic / 2004; Spišská Sobota – Slovakia / 2005) have naturally engaged the attention of the specialized public and the others.
The very words of professor Juraj Meliš about the thesis of Ľ. Purdeš (University of Fine Arts, Bratislava, 1987-1993) suggested a lot. Professor emphasized especially the author's interest in the natural shapes from the sea of Neogene. This intensive feeling of the old and at first sight simple forms and of the traditional sculptural materials (wood, stone, metal) has endured till now. Purdeš also continues in his own manner on the developing of penetration of external and internal space of the sculpture. This type of work was introduced by Alexander Arkhipenko, Max Bill, Henry Arp, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth. The minimalist artists as Robert Morris, Carl Andre, Ulrich Rückriem, Magdalena Jetelová, Tony Cragg or Slovak Rudolf Uher, Ján Mathé, František Patočka, Peter Roller or Purdeš'es peer Bohuš Kubínsky (born 1966) continued in this.
A shackling and almost baroque release of the form from the material is typical for the series of his early compositions that use not only technically perfect work of material, but also the moment of surprise, when the hard and fragile stone and wood are similar to the plastically resilient, shapeable and tightly bound materials (e.g. The Inner Tension; Without a Title; The Pillar, 1992). At the same time, the next tendency is pulled across, i.e. not only to create the penetration of the spaces, but also to use colorful sources of light that are captured inside the sculpture's space. By this, the additional and independent of the natural light effect come into existence (Neogene I, 1993; Miocene, 1997). Ľubomír Purdeš has been developing the mystery of brightness, hinting, indefiniteness and multimeaningness together with the elements of playfulness and guided chance of such artistic pieces in the next years of his work, when he has moved from the works of monumentalized shapes (in fact they are not so huge - not more than 100 cm) to the creation of high wooden sculptures. We can find the respect to the used material and at the same time a maximal use of its expressional and technical possibilities in author's numerous lapidary sculptural pictures.
Ľubomír Purdeš realizes his continuous interest in the spirituality, internal human world and his relation to the transcendental issues in two basic forms. The first represents figurative works (designed for an architecture) that are based either on the mimetic attitude to the reality with the strong intend to express a harmony (e.g. memorial desk John Paul II, bronze, 1996) or, in a case of inevitability, with the stress on the bigger exaggeration and the expressivity of the form (e.g. Madonna with the Little Jesus and St. Francisco from Assisi for the Church of St. Francisco from Assisi in Vranov nad Topľou, epoxid, 1998). For now, the most representative author's work of his creative potentiality is the series of low relief designed for the Church of the Holy Trinity in Eastern Slovakia (exposed, 2005). Dominant composition of Holy Trinity with suffering Christ on the cross (width of 550 cm) expresses the idea of sacrifice that is a presupposition of resurrection in the images of some Icaruse's wings that are falling apart from crossed beams of light. Ľubomír Purdeš managed naturally to combine a plasticity of darkly looking relief with the underlined tragic element and the play of the light of white space of the wall with its dynamic penetrations through some parts of the unexpectedly dramatically interfered material. The similar solution is applied in the cycle of relief’s called The Cross Road in the same object (bronze, 2005, high of 75 cm). Generalized, geometrically stylized forms of the single scenes are changing into the signs, possibly close to the more ideal world. The crystallized draperies on the figures are in a harmony with the angular burden of the white and „empty“ cross. A master use of these spaces of the relief’s and making their whiteness similar to The Light helps to reach the unity, the rosary that gets off the space.
Ľubomir Purdeš has been developing the other form of his work, which is based on the symbolic thoughtful courses and radically simplified symbolic shapes for couple of years in the cycle called Trinity I-IV (wood, 1996-2001). Even we meet using of archetypical elements in the work of many Slovak and worldwide artists (e.g. the series of Constantin Brancusi, Vladimír Kompánek and Andrej Rudavský), Ľubomír Purdeš successfully tried to materialize his view of the everlasting secrets. The respect to the wood as to the final sculptural material caused that he added those parts of fine art work that usually end up far from it.
The fascination for various forms of something eternal and unseized (but at least able to be expressed in hints in diminishing material) and at the same time its unity and mutual dependence and unseparatedness in its essence became the base of the sculptor's several years' program.
Each three composition originated from one single huge tree trunk. The first one – The Trinity I (1996-1997, length of 520 cm) is made on the dominant horizontal line of some circle ribs arranged in a row one by one. The three parts raised successively from the original tree trunk so that not to stop to be together in the completely new quality. The smaller parts are comparatively quickly separated from the thick, almost untouched material covered by the coarse bark and they again create a new unity. Then the core separates by the calm but strenuous manual work. Technically perfectly worked lying part made of the series of the circles linked to one common axis excelled in the aesthetic appeal of the beautiful material. In this way it is in the contrast with the original surface of the other parts of the whole.
All the other works of this cycle are solved vertically. The Trinity II (1997-1998, high of 320 cm) is organized around the central cross. The author added the red light that penetrates from the inside to the external space even through the perforation of four aside and aslant placed segments creating an arrow. In case of The Trinity III (1998-1999, high of 240 cm), the original cylinder offers its secrets that are ended by the never-ending spiral. The Trinity IV ( (2000-2001, height of 400 cm) is like a butterfly that has just flown out from a pupa lying on the earth without damaging it. A quadruple linked ladder faces the heaven and again leaves by it mutually connected massive blocks of its inside.
The trinity, the three-dimension, three parts with the same direction – an eternal human intend to approach the eternity and its secrets with the help of the symbols and the signs.
PhD Vladislav Grešlík
art historian /Prešov University, Slovak Republic /