doc. Vladislav Grešlík, ArtD. /SK/

A Sculptor in captivity of light and nature, light captive in sculptures

(About work of Jaroslav Drotár)

doc. Vladislav Grešlík, ArtD. /SK/ - art historian Prešov University


In the beginning was the Word, then light and nature. Finally, the art was created. Although just as an image of dust of soil. Interlink of triad light – nature –  art dominates also in work of Jaroslav Drotár[1]. We can also say about his works, which are sometimes performed in a technically perfectional manner, that „perfection of a spiritual image emerges in imperfection of human hands.“ [2]

Longtime continued interest in natural shapes, fascination with its astonishing refinement of shapes in conjunction with received and released light brought the artist to a close physical contact with the field of ​​entomology and mysterious underwater world. [3]

Jaroslav Drotár coped with processing and bending metal wires of different types professionally. This technology has been present in Slovak environment for several centuries. He has been devoted to the practice, since university studies. As if the name itself foreshadowed the further direction for future creative work of the artist[4].

I. Cocoons[5] and Hunters[6] (1992) – a thematic area of J. Drotár‘s early works. The process of transforming, which is shrouded by mystery of uncertainty, is presented as a vibration of light penetrating from the empty internal space among wire ribs set up at regular intervals (of light).

Monumental simple biomorphic forms, which seem as if they were floating, emerging from dark environment together with colourful neon lights (green, blue, red), evoke feeling of dramatic tension. As a result, they combine immemorial world of life and current technical achievements.


II. Perceptor[7] and Rotor[8] (1994) remind a student search of a path, which turned into a long-term program. They represent the next phase of the author's interest about ideal functional regular natural shapes honed by transformations within million years. Rotating transparent forms allow diffused external light to dematerialize volumes to such an extent that, despite their size (about two meters long) we perceive them as naturally levitating objects ready for an elegant, floating movement. J. Drotár received a  Martin Benka Award (1995) for these works.


III. From the Universe through Black hole to Sarcophagi and Shell (1996-1999) – this is another part of an imaginary creative journey of the sculptor. Perfect regular shapes of the Universe (1996)[9] derived from a circle move in a latent dynamics in the same hight as UFO. A bit more comlicated is Black Hole [10] (1998). A hemisphere with a slender dent in the middle forever (?) draws into itself all around. However, captive space leaks a little bit from a web of wires to escape and get lost in infinitely deep water as their natural habitat.

Luminescent blue Abyss (1998) is luring indeed. The Sarcophagus II [11] (1998) is similar to it as to the shape. Sarcophagus as an abyss of something, an abyss as someone's sarcophagus. We do not know their boundaries. The works inspired by fragile and empty shells of animals become particular artistic works afterwards. On one side they are enclosed by a solid wooden part so that more corrugated movements of wire, which copy the symbolic, like chitinous (Shell I, [12]1998, Shell IV[13], 1999) can stand out.

IV. Module and Synchrotron are geometrically regular formations formed by twirling a wire around a single axis. Layering different dished forms on each other creates an image of variability and proximity at the same time. Although rugged, but still repetetive and exactly divided shapes of the Module [14] (2002) resulted in a cylinder of the Synchrotron[15] (2003), which is coiled and closed in an ideal infinite circle. A vibrant spiral inside dynamizes not only internal space around it, but also, due the fact that it is easy to see, it looks as if it vibrated the room from outside. With proper lighting, additional effects of a galanty show might appear.

V. Hitchhiker II[16] and Tender tension[17] (2005) continue in developing of  the theme of works of undulating or regular biomorphic shape, where (red) neon light penetrating the inner bulk out to darkness, has an important role.

The Ritual position I[18] (2006), created a bit later, combines rugged curves of water world with a hint of a figure. It differs from the already mentioned compositions by the fact that here we can find a shape made by human hand, inspired by the nature with a mass of stone with no visible human intervention.

VI. Cetus I [19] and Cetus II Large Box [20] (2008) – a void filled with light. It looks as if simple shells of animals resurrected again and started to gleam. Their huge bulk of monumental proportions is in a way another monument, a tribute to something that most people do not notice in everyday life.

VII. In 2008 a number of works by which the author developed a line of abstract natural motifs, and at the same time a more and more intensive effort to break out of the voluntary exile appears, an effort to try other forms of self-expression. The Heritage[21], Messenger[22], Morning and Evening[23], Solar stele[24] – compositions of steel and glass, connection of stability and fragile hardness. Their names include phases of a day similarly to Michelangelo.

Old and embossed corroded steel plate due to new signs-notches became a place of communication of past with the shadows of present. If Messanger still contains a significant element of biomorph, in others it occurs only in a latent form. In Solar stela, the use of (color) light, its intersection from/into the work was reduced to the relationship of natural light and stiff one, with the help of heat processed embossed surface of glass.

VIII. Steel and glass, the most commonly used materials by the author, despite indication of dynamics, yet are limited by their physical characteristics and do not allow to express/capture a sharp movement. But much more options gave him the Light drawings (2008), drawings by light on surface. As if vigorous gestures of light movement recorded unbound, untamed vibration of a loose steel spring.

IX. Jaroslav Drotárʼs interest in light and its impact in space led him to work for architecture. His Stained Glasses[25] (2000) are combination of the Light and light. In the monumental bronze sculptures of the Bird and Spring[26] (2006) light, which is precisely directed by reflectors, also plays a role of an active element of composition. Recent works of the author show even more expressive shift from regular shapes to the initial chaos of creation. Water Sign (2012) combines the play of light on natural stone and glass, the original smooth surface of which had been roughened, wrinkled by heat.

X. Jaroslav Drotár is surrounded by several generational peers who are also dedicated to motifs inspired by natural pre-shapes. But he has been the only one able to transform inherently different materials such as steel, wood and glass into a harmonious chord. And this is one of the fact he contributes significantly to the development of contemporary sculpture in Slovakia.








[1] Jaroslav Drotár (born 1965, Humenné, Slovakia) studied at Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava (1988-1994), department of Sculpture at prof. Juraj Meliš). In 1992 he studied at Staatlichen Akademie der Bilderder Künste in Karlsruhe at prof. Horst Antes. In 1995 he was awarded the Prize of Martin Benka. Currently he is tutoring at Deparment of Arts in Faculty of Arts, Prešov University. He is living and working in Humenné.

[2] In: Rupnik, Marko Ivan. Až se stanou umění & život duchovními (teologie umění). Velehrad: Refugium Velehrad-Roma, 1997, p. 52.

[3] Apart from the mentioned motives, J. Drotár is keen on sculptural works with highly mimetic basis. Many of them belongs to architecture and exterior (Portrait of Adolf Dobryanskyy, Michalovce; Good soldier Shveyk, 2000, Humenné; St. Cyril and Method, 2002, Sečovce etc.). He applied his sensation of colour in stained glass technigue (Church of Decollation of St. John the Baptist, 2000, Humenné) and painting on the glass (House of Hope, 2003, Sečovce). Recently he has dedicated his attention to interior design.

[4] So far, the most extensive collection of his work was shown in late 2008 in Prešov. See: The morning and evening. Jaroslav Drotár. Curator of the exhibition and author of the catalog text: Peter Markovic. Prešov: Šariš galery, 2008.

[5] Steel, neon tube.

[6] Steel, neon tube.

[7] Steel, polyester, 2010 x 130 x 130 cm.

[8] Steel, 310 x 60 x 60 cm.

[9] Steel, 60 x 60 x 18 cm.

[10] Steel, 100 x 65 x 65 cm.

[11] Steel, glasss, wood.

[12] Steel, wood, 100 x 24 x 17 cm.

[13] Steel, wood, 80 x 25 x 18 cm.

[14] Steel, 80 x 40 x 40 cm.

[15] Steel, 110 x 110 x 17 cm.

[16] Steel, neon tube, 120 x 35 x 24 cm.

[17] Steel, neon tube, 70 x 45 x 45 cm.

[18] Steel, stone, 35 x 35 x 28 cm.

[19] Glass, steel, neon tube, 212 x 58 x 120 cm.

[20] Wood, glass, steel, 212 x 58 x 120 cm.

[21] Steel, 180 x 40 x 40 cm.

[22] Steel, glass, stone.

[23] Steel, glass, light, 65 x 75 x 110 cm.

[24] Glass, steel, 2015 x 70 x 70 cm.

[25] Colourful stained glasses were created for the Church of Decollation of St. John the Baptist in Humenné.

[26]Both works were made for Sečovce town (Square of St. Cyril and Methodius), bronze, 600 x 300 x 300 cm.

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